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New army chief Lt General Dalibir Suhag's appointment runs into controversy

Monday, 28 April 2014 - 7:00am IST | Agency: dna

In a fresh controversy into the appointment of new army chief, a writ petition has been filed in Manipur high court against army personnel including naming Lt General Dalibir Suhag, who is the front-runner for the post of army chief.

A petition filed in the Imphal high court by the family member of one of the Manipuri youth, who were allegedly killed by the military intelligence unit in Dimapur in March 2010. Bodies of three Manipuri youth were found in Dimapur on March 25, 2010. Army has denied its involvement in the killing and claimed it happened due to "inter-group rivalry."

The petitioner has mentioned that when the local police requested the Dimapur-based 3 Corps to co-operate in the investigation as fingers were being pointed towards the intelligence unit of the same Corps, the then Corps Commander Lt General Dalbir Suhag refused to cooperate with the police investigation citing protection under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

However, the army has denied any involvement of Lt General Dalbir Suhag, as he was not Corps Commander at the time of the incident.

"The killing took place because of inter-group rivalry. Army had carried out a detailed investigation but nothing was found against army personnel. And at that time, 3 Corps Commander was Lt General NK Singh not Lt General Dalbir Suhag. Suhag took over as 3 Corps Commander in March 2011," said a senior army officer. Interestingly, General VK Singh, who has accused the government of appointing next army chief in haste, was the Eastern Army commander when incident happened.

However, the then Army chief Gen VK Singh had imposed a discipline and vigilance promotion ban on Lt General Dalbir Suhag in May 2012. General VK Singh placed him under the ban on charges of "abdicating responsibility" in handling an intelligence and surveillance unit under his command in Dimapur-based 3 Corps for what was dubbed as a "botched-up intelligence operation." However, the ban was revoked by General Bikram Singh within a week of his taking over as the army chief.

It is notable that a similar type petition was filed in the J&K high court for alleging involvement General Bikram Singh in a fake encounter, as an attempt to derail his appointment as chief of army staff. Petition was filed weeks before General Bikram Singh was slated to be designated as the successor of General VK Singh in May 2012.

Meanwhile, despite stiff resistence from opposition, the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-II is all set to go ahead with the appointment of next army chief.

According to top sources in the government, the ministry of defence has completed the procedural requirement for the appointment before sending to the Appointments Committee on Cabinet headed by the prime minister.

"All requirements have been completed including assessment reports from the Intelligence Bureau, CVC and CBI. Very soon, the file will move to the prime minister's office for approval," said an officer. The ministry of defence has already got clearance from the Election Commission considering appointment as routine administrative matters.

The BJP has approached the Election Commission and the President for restricting government for making appointment of next army chief.

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