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Drama at VK Singh's house over army officer's visit, army apologises

Saturday, 5 January 2013 - 6:25pm IST Updated: Saturday, 5 January 2013 - 9:33pm IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: PTI

A Major went to the ex-army chief's house purportedly to remove the army's telephone exchange, but his family alleged that it was an attempt to plant snooping bugs.

Former army chief Gen VK Singh's residence was a scene of high drama today when an army officer landed there apparently to remove a telephone exchange and it was seen by the family as an attempt to instal snooping device, after which the army expressed regret.

A Major of the Signals Regiment was "detained" by the family members who called the media to the scene in Mandir Marg in Delhi Cantonment at around 2pm.

They linked it to the withdrawal of the Z-plus security to Gen Singh, who has been at loggerheads with the establishment for over a year following the controversy relating to his age issue.

Gen Singh's family members claimed that Major R Vikram from 1st Signals Regiment entered their house without prior permission and may have been trying to bug their telephones.

"We found him (Major) at the house. They (team) could not give any reasonable logic for being here. They had no valid documents. They may have come to bug the phone. We detained, apprehended him. He revealed his identity as Maj R Vikram from 1st Signals Regiment," said Gen Singh's lawyer Vishwajeet Singh.

Claiming that the Major and his team had "some cards with them", he said "recently they have withdrawn security and now this has happened. There could be something big."

The Army Headquarters said the exchange was being removed from the former army chief's residence as part of the withdrawal of Z-plus security category with effect from November last year.

Delhi Area Commander Lt Gen Subroto Mitra went to the site and it was "sorted out amicably", they said.

He talked to the former army chief's family on the issue and expressed regret for the inconvenience caused to him, they said.

The army dismissed the allegations of snooping attempt, saying its team had gone there to remove the army telephone exchange installed there and the issue was created due to communication gap.

"Due to a miscommunication gap somewhere, a Signals Regiment party went to remove the Army exchange and lines at the Mandir Marg house of Gen VK Singh. Mrs VK Singh objected to the removal of the exchange without prior notice," the army said in a statement.

"The lack of advance information caused slight resentment. The matter was amicably resolved by intervention of GOC Delhi Area. The army respects all its retired chiefs and senior officers and will continue to do so," it said.

In deference to her objection, the team returned without removing the exchange.

The house to Singh has been provided by the Defence Ministry for one year from his retirement on May 31 last year.

He said the army will carry out the exercise after giving prior information to the family.

The army said that after the officer reached Gen VK Singh's residence, he talked to the daughter of the former army chief to take directions for establishing direct lines in the house and also got her to talk to the Commanding Officer of his unit.

Gen Singh has himself been in the midst of a row following allegations that during his tenure as army chief he had used sophisticated off-the-air interceptors to snoop on the officials of defence ministry at the height of his age controversy.

The specialised unit Technical Support Division is now in the process of being disbanded.

Gen VK Singh, who was in Gujarat at the time of the incident, arrived here in the evening.

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