I opposed Army deployment in anti-naxal ops: Gen VK Singh

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New Delhi, Nov 8: Former Army Chief Gen VK Singh has claimed that the then Home Minister P Chidambaram had not liked his opposition to the deployment of army in the Naxal-affected areas.

Recalling a meeting he had with the Minister in his North Block office, Gen Singh said in his just-published autobiography 'Courage and Convictions' that Chidambaram told him "You know the Naxal problem was a major national issue.

So, why do you oppose the deployment of the Army in Naxal areas?" "This confirmed my fear that the Government was indeed considering asking the Army to deploy in the heartland of India," he said adding that during the conversation, the Minister was looking at him "intently, with a half-smile on his lips".

Gen Singh said he told the Minister that "I am fully aware of the situation on the ground. It is a socio-economic and governance issue and needs to be addressed accordingly. "At the same time, it is not a secessionist movement and it would not be correct to use the Army against our own people."

He said the smile never left the Minister's face. "He was too much suave to show any emotion but I could sense that he had not liked my reply."

The former army chief said soon after he took over the Army in 2010, the Home Ministry had not liked his comments on the killing of over 70 people in the Dantewada massacre which suggested that there was a need to review the training and operational procedures of the paramilitary forces."

"In the ensuing days, the Home Ministry felt that I had encroached upon its turf and there were indications that they were none too happy about my comments. This discomfort was possibly aided by the fact that there was much talk around this time, at various levels, about Army's possible deployment against the Naxalite-Maoist movement," he said.

Gen Singh said the events in the Supreme Court after the second hearing had created a buzz that almost every newspaper said that the General has lost.

He claimed that a day before he was scheduled to leave for the UK on an official tour he met the former President. "I hope you are not thinking of resigning," said the President pointing out the importance of the official visit starting the next day. If you do that, history will say that you were only interested in your age extension.

You must carry on with the work which you are doing," he claims in his autobiography. The former Army Chief claimed that the Supreme Court had said "nothing at all in its order".

"They had simply stated that the Government of India letter rejecting the Statutory Complaint was withdrawn. Though I knew this had happened, its actual import did not sink in for some time.

The statutory complaint was alive, the Government of India had to answer it. They still had to fix my date of birth as per legal practices," he has claimed in his book.

Gen Singh claims that he had made this point in an earlier interview to a magazine but the next day "the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet had cleared the name of my successor."

Gen Singh said soon after the second hearing on his way to Jaipur, he had thought of "putting in my papers but quickly brushed that thought aside.

Right from the outset, I had known that I was up against a system that either expected me to conform to their accepted age-old practices or just look the other way."

"The age issue had been brought into play with certain objectives, but as I moved up the chain of command towards the very top, it had become the one and only weapon my adversaries had to neutralise me," he said.

PTI

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