Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Probe finds proof against 4 generals in Sukna land scam

NEW DELHI: After liquor, fuel and ration scandals, land scams are now exploding in the Army's face. The fate of four generals and several other officers hangs in the balance after a court of inquiry (CoI) found that a prima facie case does exist in the alleged land scam at the Sukna military station earlier this year.

Though an embarrassed Army HQ on Monday flatly refused to say anything about the CoI findings, sources say there is ``more than enough'' evidence to ``try some senior officers'' for ``gross improprieties and irregularities'' through a court-martial.

Incidentally, one of the generals questioned by the CoI, Lt-Gen Avadhesh Prakash, is among the eight principal staff officers to Army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor as the military secretary at the Army HQ here.
Moreover, the appointment of another general, Lt-Gen P K Rath, as the new Army deputy chief (information systems and training) from November 1 has already been cancelled by the defence ministry, as reported by TOI earlier.

Lt-Gen Rath was `attached' to the CoI at the Kolkata-based Eastern Army Command in October because he was the 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.

Lt-Gen Rath's then deputy, Lt-Gen Ramesh Halgali, who is commanding the 11 Corps at Jalandhar at present, and some other officers in the `chain in command' have also apparently been indicted by the CoI.
Incidentally, another CoI is being conducted into alleged financial irregularities in the construction of a war memorial and museum renovation at the Ranikhet-based Kumaon Regimental Centre.

While the centre commandant Brigadier Bhupinder Singh is being questioned in this CoI, Lt-Gen Prakash — interestingly enough — also happens to be the `Colonel of the Kumaon Regiment'.

Defence minister A K Antony, on his part, has asked the Army to fix responsibility in the land scam, which revolves around the grant of a no-objection certificate (NoC) on February 6 to a business group and private education trust, which posed as an affiliate of the Ajmer-based Mayo College, to acquire a 70-acre tea estate adjacent to the Sukna military station.

Incidentally, Army authorities had initially rejected the NoC to the Kolkata-based business group on the grounds of security but the decision was later overturned when Lt-Gen Rath was the 33 Corps commander. Even documents were apparently forged to help the business group to start a Rs 300-crore venture on the land in question.

Antony, in fact, 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''.

The minister expressed the worry that the involvement of senior officers in such cases would ``weaken the ability of the armed forces to ably handle ever-increasing security challenges''. The Army should, therefore, ensure that a loud and clear message is sent that corruption will be ``dealt with absolute sternness and promptness''.

The declining standards of probity and discipline in armed forces have been underlined by a series of meat, cereal, liquor and fuel scandals. So much so that a major-general has faced the music for even sexual harassment in recent times.

1 comment:

  1. Deepak Kapoor has brought disgrace and shame to the Indian Army.
    Defence minister Antony should sack this person