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Unit set up by V K Singh used secret funds to try and topple J&K govt, block Bikram Singh: Army probe

Indian Express, New Delhi, Fri Sep 20 2013New Delhi, Fri Sep 20 2013
Misusing secret service funds to destabilise the Omar Abdullah government in Jammu and Kashmir, to pay off an NGO to try change the line of succession in the top brass, to buy off-air interception equipment, to conduct “unauthorised” covert operations — a string of alleged irregularities by the Technical Services Division (TSD), a controversial Military Intelligence (MI) unit set up by former Chief General in May 2010, should come under the scanner of an external agency like the CBI.

This is a key recommendation of a secret Board of Officers inquiry report into the functioning of the TSD. The inquiry was led by Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia, DG, Military Operations.

The report, which includes original Army documents and notings, was submitted to the then Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma around March this year. It has rattled the security establishment and prompted a series of measures to curtail MI’s powers, tighten monitoring of its covert operations and its use of secret service (SS) funds.

Government and Army sources have confirmed to The Indian Express that a summary of the report has been put up by the Ministry of Defence to Minister A K Antony who is understood to have instructed that its contents be brought to the notice of the Prime Minister’s Office. The report has been examined, sources said, at the “highest levels” in the MoD and the PMO.

The Indian Express has learnt that the report cites testimonies of officials on money taken from SS funds for operational expenses by the TSD at the expense of other commands and field units. These claims include:

* Rs 1.19 crore given to Ghulam Hassan Mir, presently Agriculture Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, to engineer a change of Governmrnt in Jammu and Kashmir. When contacted by The Indian Express, Mir called the charge baseless.

* Rs 2.38 crore was given to one Hakikat Singh on orders from Army Headquarters. Hakikat Singh set up an NGO named “Jammu and Kashmir Humanitarian Service Organisation (JKHSO),” which was linked to “Yes Kashmir,” another NGO which filed a PIL against then Army Commander Bikram Singh (who is now the Army Chief) in the alleged fake encounter case in Jangalat Mandi when Bikram Singh was a Brigadier. That PIL, which was later dismissed, was widely seen as an attempt to scuttle Bikram Singh’s appointment and change the line of succession in the top brass.

* Rs 8 crore was spent on purchase of interception equipment from a Singapore-based company in November 2010 ostensibly meant to be deployed in the J&K 15 Corps. In March 2012, following orders of the then DG, MI, Lt Gen D S Thakur, the equipment was physically destroyed. Incidentally, this happened days after a report in The Indian Express on the illegal use of this equipment in New Delhi.

* Frequent foreign travel by TSD officials to places like London and Dubai using their personal and not official passports and of specific TSD officials “doctoring” documents to tarnish Army officers.

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