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?