Sukna Land issue: Eastern Army Command urges media to exercise restraint

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Kolkata, Dec.1 (ANI): The Eastern Command of the Indian Army on Tuesday appealed to the media to exercise restraint in reporting on the Sukna Land issue, involving some officers.

In a statement, the Eastern Army Command said: "Certain media reports have appeared regarding ongoing Court of Inquiry in Sukhna Land issue of Eastern Command. Since the Court of Inquiry is still in progress and not finalized, therefore speculative comments/interferences at this stage about the guilt of an individual is not appropriate."

The statement further went on to say; "It should also be understood that it amounts to character assassination of senior army officers. Premature trials and verdicts by the responsible media should be avoided."

The statement by the Eastern Army Command came days after a court of inquiry reportedly revealed that it found found clinching proof against four serving generals in connection with the Sukna land scam.

The Court of Inquiry has indicted Military Secretary Lt. Gen. Avadesh Prakash and Deputy Army Chief-designate Lt Gen P K Rath for their role in issuing a no objection certificate to a private establishment that falsely claimed to be establishing an affiliate of the famous Ajmer-based Mayo College on land adjacent to the Sukhna military station in Darjeeling.

Lt Gen Avadesh Prakash is one of the top eight Principal Staff Officers at the Army headquarters acting as advisors to Army chief General Deepak Kapoor. As Military Secretary, is responsible for the promotion and postings of officers.

Lt-Gen P K Rath was commander of the crucial 33 Corps based in Darjeeling district of West Bengal, under which the Sukna military station comes, when the alleged land scam took place.

The Defence Ministry has cancelled the appointment of Lt. Gen. Rath as the new Deputy Army Chief (Information Systems and Training).

Lt Gen Rath's, former deputy, Lt. Gen. Ramesh Halgali is currently commanding the 11 Corps at Jalandhar. The Commission of Inquiry has also apparently indicted some other officers in the 'chain in command'.

Sources at the Army headquarters have revealed that evidence is still being collected to try some senior officers for gross improprieties and irregularities through a court-martial.

Defence Minister A K Antony has warned the Army that such cases "not only damage the Indian Army's image" but also "adversely affect the ability of senior officers to measure up to the expectations of the men they lead." (ANI)

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