PM meets Home, Defence Ministers over army chief's letter

   Mar 28, 11:58 am

New Delhi, Mar.28 (ANI): The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, was meeting with Union Home Minister P.Chidambaram and Defence Minister A.K.Antony on Wednesday to discuss and decide on the reply to be given to Chief of Army Staff General V.K.Singh's letter of March 12 to him.

Wednesday's meeting was taking place following an uproar in Parliament over the letter that was leaked to the media. Proceedings in Parliament were adjourned till noon as a result.

General V.K. Singh has in his letter warned the Prime Minister that army tanks have run out of ammunition and that obsolete technology is putting the country's security at risk.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony acknowledged in Parliament that such a letter had been written. He told members of the Rajya Sabha that the army chief's letter was meant to be confidential and that the government will respond to it "at an appropriate time."

General Singh has requested the Prime Minister to "pass suitable directions to enhance the preparedness of the army".

General Singh described the state of artillery, air defence, and infantry as "alarming."

He claimed that the army's tanks are "devoid of critical ammunition to defeat enemy tanks" and air defence is "97 percent obsolete and it doesn't give the deemed confidence to protect...from the air."

General Singh and Defence Minister Antony are already faced with a crisis with the former disclosing on Monday that he was offered a 14-crore bribe in 2010 to clear 600 substandard trucks for the army.

Antony responded on Tuesday by saying that General Singh had orally shared this information with him, and that he (Antony) had urged the army chief to take action, which he did not at that time.

For most of last year, the minister and the army chief fought a long and public battle over General Singh's age. The government refused to accept that General Singh was born in 1951 and not 1950. Records with the army show both years, but the government said that documents used to establish his seniority and promotions declared 1950 as his year of birth and could not be amended. The army chief took the unprecedented action of taking the government to court. But he dropped his petition after Supreme Court judges indicated they were unlikely to accept his arguments. (ANI)

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