Army’s payoff scandal rattles politicians

New Delhi: A massive row broke out on Tuesday over former Army chief Gen. (retd.) V.K. Singh’s revelation that the Army transfers money to politicians in Jammu and Kashmir as part of “stabilising work.”
While an embarrassed Union Minister Farooq Abdullah, whose son Omar Abdullah rules J&K, has demanded a probe into Gen Singh’s charge, Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde asked the General to reveal the names of the ministers who got Army money so that an enquiry could be ordered. Farooq called Gen Singh’s statement `terrible’ and `sad’, saying the Army has to remain apolitical.
An embattled National Conference, badgered by the Opposition Panther’s Party, demanded a CBI enquiry.
The former Army Chief implied that both the defence minister and the J&K CM must be aware of the practice and added, “This has not been invented by Gen. V.K. Singh.” He also insisted that such payments did “not constitute interference” in the affairs of the civilian government in the state and added that this was meant to assist them.
General Singh’s revelations came after he was asked about an Army report that purportedly mentioned that more than Rs 1 crore was paid to a minister in J&K by the Technical Support Division (TSD) — a controversial military intelligence unit that was created during the tenure of Gen. Singh but which has now been disbanded.
He denied that any attempt was made to topple the J&K government by the TSD, as allegedly claimed in the report.
Gen. (retd.) Singh said this is practice has been going on “since Independence”. He also said that there are systems in place to ensure that the money was accounted for, with proper receipts given.
Gen. Singh also mentioned the organisation of protests in favour of the J&K government and described a Kashmiri politician —  Ghulam Hassan Mir —as a “nationalist” politician.

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