In light of the various insinuations and counter charges by the UPA Government, I wish to make my position clear on what I have said on the appointment of the new army Chief.
First, the process of appointing the next chief is a three to four month process and the designated officer that takes over the job of the COAS is according to convention announced two months before. The only violation of this was in the case of my successor where the UPA Government had announced his name three months in advance to further their own agenda. The selection process itself is an ongoing business and it should continue, with the final clearance being made by the new Cabinet. However, there are clear indications that the out going UPA Government is deliberately speeding up the process in order to abrogate the decision to itself. This is morally and ethically incorrect.
I am being accused of 'raking' up the issue by the UPA to favour a certain officer who would be next in line should the current senior most candidate be 'sidelined'. The DV ban issued by me against Lt Gen Dalbir Suhag, revoked by the present COAS immediately on taking over, is similarly being dismissed as being 'motivated'.
The DV ban was issued on specific grounds and was not an act of petulant vindictiveness as is being made out. Though the DV ban was revoked by my successor arbitrarily, the resultant Court Martial has found all the accused guilty. This by itself vindicates the DV ban. The MOD, however, is trying to give a spin to the Jorhat case where it is downplaying the incident, claiming it only involves an NCO and the theft of a cell phone.
The fact that the DV ban imposed by me should have resulted in Lt Gen Ravi Dastane's elevation to Eastern Army Commander in the natural course of things makes the charge of 'favouritism' on my part laughable and ought to be treated with disdain. The interest of the organization and the Institutional Integrity of the Armed Forces and the country must come first, every time and always. Who is married to whom is and never was a consideration.
The UPA, along with certain elements both within and outside the Government, have done enormous damage to the country and to our Armed Forces, who have always fought to the last man with what they have. Unless and until, we as a nation do not create the right conditions, our boys and girls will be sacrificial lambs. Our officers and men do not join the Army, Navy and Air Force to die for their country, but to make our enemies die for theirs.
The appointment of the Naval Chief is a case in point. The UPA, by ditching established norms which it religiously followed in 2006, have opened itself to suspicion. I have no axe to grind with Admiral Robin Dhowan and as the CNS, I wish him well and am sure he will perform his duties to the best of his ability. However, as far as the UPA goes, the appointment in this manner is yet another example of how callously they have treated the Armed Forces.
Given the sensitivity of our border areas and our people who reside there, it is imperative that neither the Jorhat case nor the killing of the three Manipuri boys be swept under the carpet. The DV ban was imposed after careful deliberation, and it is my belief that we cannot cover up incidents and protect rogue units under AFSPA. The Act offers our boys protection from being falsely charged, and towards that end the line has to be clearly drawn. A fair and free assessment of the events, especially in the light of the Court Martial's findings, is vital. It is up to the next Government to then take an informed decision.
The UPA's last ditch attempt to tamper with established norms in the selection of the next Chief of Army Staff must be resisted by all parties, regardless if they are left, right or in the center. For the MoD to try and dismiss the Jorhat incident as a theft of a cell phone by a NCO is a travesty of justice. To cover up and shield the guilty parties endlessly so as to push their own agenda through will be yet another act of betrayal on the people of India.