Army Chief versus Northern Army Commander

Lt. General H S Panag, GOC-in-C of Indian Army’s Udhampur based Northern Command, is meeting the Defence Minister Mr. AK Antony today to plead his case against the Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor. Read various versions of the story at CNN-IBN, IANS and The Telegraph.

Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor has asked for the removal of his top commander, Lt General HS Panag. Kapoor has pressed the government for the removal of Panag as the head of the Northern Command.

Panag has protested claiming that his removal will lead to a cover up of Army corruption that he exposed in Jammu and Kashmir. He has hinted at the misuse of special financial powers delegated to Army Commanders. The system, he suggests, is not clean. “The system is not clean. It is being used,” says Lt Gen Panag.

During his one-year tenure in Kashmir, General Panag has initiated 15 inquiries into Army purchases. The problem is that most of these cases relate to the tenure of General Kapoor as Northern Army Commander in 2006. Kapoor is not amused. And the spat is out into the open. [CNN-IBN]

The spin being put on by both the sides in the media makes for some interesting reading. The Chief’s camp posits that it is the jurisdiction of the Chief to change the Army Commander and the approval by the government is only a formality. Not a word about the corruption cases when he was the Northern Army Commander. So much for the civilian control of the military in a democracy and integrity in uniform!

Lt. General Panag is positioning himself as a “crusader-hero”, who is out to clean the stables. This ingratiates him with the current Defence minister, Mr. Antony, who makes an extra effort to be perceived as “Mr. Clean” himself. Notwithstanding his own personal standards of probity, Mr. Antony’s sanctimonious attitude has placed a roadblock in the path of many defence deals.

What effect does it have on the rank and file of the Army? It only tends to affirm their cynicism about the senior ranks — corrupt, venal and egotist generals fighting their own petty personal battles in uniform.

This instance strengthens Pragmatic’s exhortation to the media and the civil society that the Indian military is not above criticism. Is anyone listening?


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20 Responses to Army Chief versus Northern Army Commander

  1. NotReallyAnonymous January 5, 2008 at 5:53 pm #

    So is it time to start worrying that such investigations might degrade Army’s effectiveness in CI ops with regards to the equipment purchased at the Army command or the corp level, a situation not very different from the hiccups in general defence modernisation due to the various scams exposed in the past decade or more?

  2. Pragmatic January 5, 2008 at 7:01 pm #

    The investigations are for buying poor quality rations and ordnance items. CI ops is not going to be affected by these enquiries — their misuse is. The misuse/ abuse of Army Commander’s special powers fund, is a story for which army has been severely indicted by CAG.
    My larger point, which I did not directly put in the post, is that senior Army officers are fighting their private battles in the public domain and now through the media. There have been doubts raised about by CAG and CBI enquiries into corruption that have been covered in the media, which seem to be motivated by fellow officers competing for the same posts. Where is the Army headed?

  3. NotReallyAnonymous January 6, 2008 at 5:03 am #

    They probably intend to use such investigations to taint the other guy’s ACR. Would that be because all the other headings discussed in an ACR don’t allow differentiating between officers at that level, when it comes to promotions?

  4. Pragmatic January 6, 2008 at 8:55 am #

    A CBI enquiry or a CAG indictment, with adequate coverage in the media, should be able to get a fellow officer with marginally better ACR as well. Let me also add, it is not that the corrupt are targeting and fixing the honest guys(a la Bollywood); all of them are comparable on the corruption scale. Just that they have become smarter and found newer tools [media, etc.] to play the game.
    I am deliberately not quoting any specific instances, that are not available in the public domain. It is just a matter of time before we start hearing about this in the media as well.

  5. Col R J Sharma January 6, 2008 at 4:06 pm #

    Lt gen Panag has really brought down the operatioan efficiency of India army using his unpredictable and abnormal behaviour. Thanks to his investigations, troops deployed in extreme cold climate of high altitude, ordnance has not been able to procure adequate quantity of special clothing. He needs to move out from opertional Northern command in the larger interest of organisation.

  6. peeyush January 10, 2008 at 12:22 pm #

    Gen Panag’s essentricity is for what the jawans would have to pay by having no proper equipment, officers would have to pay by loosing thr reputation and the indian army by being disgraced. He needs to move out now.
    I am glad he is retiring soon but after all the damage that he has done, its really sad…

  7. jayant January 10, 2008 at 12:24 pm #

    Gen Panag has met harsh treatment and disgraced officers even after nothing was found against them… if someone has to be blamed for reuining the army its him… i wonder who made him a general…

  8. Col Tarun January 10, 2008 at 12:31 pm #

    If one looks into the kind of cases that Panag has started in the northern command, he for his own personal agenda has massacared such senior officers who spent thr entire lives serving the army. he took such drastic action without any concrete proof. Basically anybody can have a COI in the command for existing.

  9. PS January 14, 2008 at 3:02 pm #

    [1] Church & Military Law: Was reading Maj Gen JFC Fuller’s book ‘The Second World War -A Strategic and Tactical History’ pub 1948, Eyre and Spottiswoode. [ Just to learn whether folks declared 'missing in action' were eventually listed on World War Memorials or are forgotten if their bits and pieces could not be id. Has interesting content eg a mention on page 19 that "in the Old Law of the Church it was laid down that everyone must have a hearing, even the Devil: Etiam diabulus aidutur ( Even the Devil has the right to be heard. )" But Military law does not allow { suspends the fundamental right of ) subordinate clauses a hearing in print or TV or elsewhere non as per MIML, even by proxy. So what gives ?

    [2] Getting Legit Info: And if anyone wants non classified information on the Army -whether it is (a) Kill ratios (b) Chicken egg sizes (c) Why Military Duck Farms were shortsightedly shut down alongwith Fauji Rabbit and Vegetable farms 60 years ago (d) Weight and volume standards – Meat on Hoof (e) Permitted jewellery on Parade, (f) Number of guns imported from Iceland in 1999 or even (g) Which unimaginative brass idiot thought up the name WSES for the recruitment of women in the Armed Forces (h) How many Miss Indias and Miss Worlds had / have a Papa or – why not, in today’s politically correct context – a Mama ranked Air Marshal or Colonel General etc etc all he or she has to do is visit the official Indian Army website, follow the RTI application procedure, pay Rs 10/- officially and get the facts instead of chucking mud at an organisation which cannot or will not smersh or smirch to the (dis)gruntled or to hacks who need to earn their living with sideline Real, Virtual or Imaginary Tamashas, Tales and Circuses for their Daily Bread. Amen

    [3] Or as Shakespearwallah snips in Macbeth:
    Fair is Foul, and Foul is fair,
    Hover through the fog and filthy air. ( ?)

  10. Pragmatic January 14, 2008 at 7:08 pm #


    Let me also quote from Macbeth. The errors, if any, are totally mine as it has been 20 years since I last read it.

    1] When shall we three meet again?
    In thunder, lightning or in rain!
    When the hurly-burly is done,
    battles lost and won!

    2] Look like the innocent flower,
    But be the serpent under it.

    3] What’s done is done.

    Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell;
    Though all things foul would wear the brows of grace,
    Yet grace must still look so.

  11. PS January 15, 2008 at 7:45 pm #

    [1] Touche Sir !
    Actually Fuller quotes from both Julius Caeser and Macbeth on page 19 of his book. Hence inspired to be impertinent. Fuller has incidentally, written another 26 books, I must take a look. [ Me, I'm currently a simple semi retired Merchant from Delhi. ]

    [2] A thought niggles: If the General Manager of say the SER had protested a shift to the Central Railway Division would anyone have taken note ? [ He probably has the same salary as a Fauji similarly placed.] Anyhow now that every graduate under 58 can be conscripted more lemons may turn up.

  12. PS January 17, 2008 at 12:23 pm #

    Other Supreme Commanders: Then and Now…

  13. Col Tarun January 28, 2008 at 12:57 am #

    whats the latest any news? i have heard that Gen Panag is out of his command already.

  14. boguss recurutment in command hospital udhampur of messenger,barber, mazdoor donate 2500k for each post on fake documntation enquire it on ur hands please sir

  15. suman rawat May 8, 2008 at 7:16 pm #

    Its so sad to observe that in a country that boasts of growing by leaps and bounds, if someone attempts to unearth corruption and embezzlements, he is completely ostracized. Gen. Panag’s case is an eye-opener. The moralists stand in his favour. After corruption having spread it’s tenctacles in the entire bureaucracy,it seems that it is proliferating in the smart institution of out grand army. It is commendable that we still have officer’s like Gen. Panag, who stand grounds to root out this menace even though it might be pertaining the top lot. Gen. Panag might have had to face the heat for this but it certainly has done great service to the society ,which in the longer run,through their elected representatives, will make sure that the mammoth allocations to the defence organisations are put to right use. Gen. Panag still remains the role model for many.

    • Titia August 12, 2014 at 12:37 pm #

      Yeah, that’s the titkec, sir or ma’am

  16. PS August 1, 2008 at 6:14 pm #

    ” Lt. General Panag is positioning himself as a “crusader-hero”, who is out to clean the stables. This ingratiates him with the current Defence minister, Mr. Antony, who makes an extra effort to be perceived as “Mr. Clean” himself. Notwithstanding his own personal standards of probity, Mr. Antony’s sanctimonious attitude has placed a roadblock in the path of many defence deals.”

    A colonial avatar:

    A recent (June 2008*, I think) issue of Sainik Samachar in the USI library,
    (*it isn’t on the net ) has a set of colour photos of a May Prince and equivalent being crowned / sashed in Lucknow at a civil-military function.
    The honours egged on by Richard the Lion Heart formally assisted by Mrs Annie Panag.

    CM Mayawati to be PM Mayawati, will know what else to do about the Simla Raj style parties at the Residency.

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