Coup not possible in India, says Gen V K Singh
New Delhi: No coup can take place in India, asserts former Army chief Gen V K Singh, who faced allegations of planning a military takeover last year when he was locked in a major row with the government on his age issue.
He made this assertion for the first time since being accused of mobilising two units -- one from Hisar in Haryana and another from Agra in Uttar Pradesh -- towards Delhi in January last year, which was seen as a coup attempt.
"No. A big No. No in font 100 and in capitals...This kind of a thing is not done," Singh told PTI in an interview when asked if a coup can take place in India.
On the allegation of a coup attempt, the then Army Chief rubbished a suggestion that two units of the Army could topple the government.
Describing such reports as a "farce", he said, "They were to damage my credibility. It also damaged the image of the Army...The whole aim was to malign a person but you are actually trying to destroy an institution. How can that be permitted."
He went on to add, "It has fanned stupid phobias people have been living with. It has tarnished the image of the Army."
Over a month before Singh retired in May 2012, a news story had suggested that an armoured unit from Hisar and a para brigade unit from Agra had moved towards the capital during the intervening night of January 15 and 16, creating fear in the government circles he was planning a coup.
Incidentally, on January 16, he had moved the Supreme Court against the government's decision to treat May 10, 1950 as his date of birth and not May 10, 1951 as claimed by him.
The dispute occurred because of his official records showing two sets of dates. He had petitioned the government twice over the issue but both the times, his pleas were rejected.
If 1951 was treated as his year of birth, he would have got an extension of 10 months beyond May 31, last year, when he actually retired.
Singh suggested that the coup story was prompted by a 'Chandigarh think-tank', which included a senior official in the Prime Minister's Office and two senior journalists, who were "prompted" to write about it.
"They (the two journalists) must have been prompted. You do not write a coup story without being prompted. I am sure that everybody is intelligent enough not to write a thing like that," he said.
In his autobiography 'Courage and Convictions' published by Aleph, the former Chief has said that the coup story breaking in a national daily had the "masala of a C-grade movie script.
"Fiction or not, a banner headline greeted readers on April 6 claiming that I had moved a mechanised unit from Hisar and parachute battalion from Agra towards Delhi on January 15. Defence Secretary Shashikant Sharma had to abort his trip to Malaysia and rush back to New Delhi."
He has said the "coup story was such a farce that it smashed itself and the principle author lost credibility completely."
Singh says he is not clear as to which of the two attempts to "throw mud" at him were "more ludicrous-- the March 5 anonymous story where the off-the-air-interceptors were brought into play or the April 6 coup story."
In the March 5 story, it was alleged that the Technical Support Division, a secret intelligence unit created during his tenure, was indulging in tapping telephone lines of important officials in the Defence Ministry.
When asked why he was targeted, he said it may be due to his questioning the failure of the system on his age issue.
"It is even happening today. You look at the way the TSD thing has been made. On one hand, you say it is a secret report but on the other side, it is papers. How it has leaked? How is it that every time a paper was sent to the PMO (during his tenure), it was leaked out," the former Army chief said.