Leak of army chief's letter to PM unacceptable, but nation's defence preparedness is strong: Antony

   Mar 28, 2:11 pm

New Delhi, Mar.28 (ANI): Defence Minister A.K. Antony on Wednesday told Members of the Rajya Sabha that the nation's defence preparedness has always been strong.

Expressing his lament over the media leak of a secret correspondence between the army chief and the government, Antony said that such activities do not provide any purpose.

"Such issues can't be matter of public debate," he said.

Antony said that in matters of national security, all parties were united, and added that he would consult Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other colleagues, and then take appropriate action.

Antony told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that publishing the contents of secret letters was not in the interest of the security of the country.

Sources said that there is a strong opinion in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance Government that General Singh has violated protocol and should be dismissed.

Prime Minister Singh is expected to give his reply to the army chief's March 12 letter to him in the Lok Sabha.

He is expected to answer questions raised by the Army Chief, General V.K.Singh in his letter.

Reacting to Antony's clarification, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Arun Jaitley, said that there was a need to exercise extreme restraint.

"We will all have to exercise extreme restraint, agree with Antony," he added.

Army Chief General V.K. Singh's letter brings to his notice critical gaps in the security apparatus and warns that the country's security is at risk.

According to Times Now, the letter states that army tanks in the country are short of critical ammunition.

The letter apparently also emphasises the need to bridge the shortcomings and bring the army to fighting level.

General Singh has also said that 97 percent of the country's air defence is obsolete.

General Singh has also said that the Elite Special Forces are woefully short of weapons.

Reacting to the disclosure of the letter's contents, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said that the nation needs an assurance that such leaks will not happen again.

Union Minister for Overseas Indians Affairs Vayalar Ravi said that the leak reflected the "frustrations" of an individual, (General V.K.Singh) who had to withdraw his petition on the age row in the Supreme Court.

Ravi also felt that General Singh should have written to Defence Minister Antony instead as per the "maryada" (decorum).

"I do not know what is the issue. I have not seen the letter. The Army is a disciplined force. (He) could not get an extension even by the court. May be a frustrated man suffers," Ravi told reporters outside Parliament.

The controversy is latest in a series involving the army chief after his date of birth row with the government.

General Singh has been in the news this week for his claims of being offered a bribe of Rs.14 crore to clear a tranche of sub-standard equipment for the army.

Sources have said that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) may record General Singh's statement in this regard on March 30, 2012. (ANI)

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