[Disclaimer: Each of the information provided in this article is in Public Domain and none is prohibited or restricted by law. It’s just that they are scattered at 1000 places, I tried my best to pin it all together in one article]
This is Part 2 (Sad Part ) of Two Part article on how an effective Army Intel Unit was destroyed by Media and Vested interest group. Please read Part 1 of the article here – Part 1
MEDIA as a Fourth State
Media and Journalist are said to serve the role of a “fourth estate”, acting as a watchdog on the various social, political and economic activities around us. It is also a very noble profession and is a great way to do public service, to have an impact on the community. Or is it really, in today’s context?
Well! There were days when great men in this profession like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, compelled the President of most powerful country in the planet to resign. Their work can be considered the finest piece of investigative journalism ever.
Journalism was also very effectively used as a tool during our freedom struggle, by our very own greats like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Subramania Iyer, Motilal Ghosh, Sisir Kumar Ghosh to name a few.
Lot has changed since then, media instead of being the fourth pillar of democracy has been used by establishment and vested interest groups to peddle their agenda and try to change public perception.
A whole country has been invaded and pulled towards war just because of a fake news piece, like in case of Judith Miller. That story of her in NYT later turned out to be based on fake inputs. Unlike our journalists here in India, that news story virtually ended Judith Miller’s career as respectable media personality, career that started in mid 1977. Here we have had media personalities caught indulging in political lobbying for cabinet formation. A separate book can be written on the treachery they did during the time of crisis and war.
Now the penetration of internet and subsequently the social media has been a big roadblock to these big Media Houses who solely hold the public discourses once. Also there is a certain rift among Media and journalist based on ideology and bias which is a good thing for common people. Competition always helps, right?
THE FALL of TSD- Betrayal
There is an old saying…
When the sea clashes with the rocks, it is the clams that suffer!
While TSD men were doing what they do best, diligently working, putting their own life at risks for the country, but all was not calm on the Delhi Front.
General V.K. Singh and the Defence Ministry were already in an ugly public scuffle regarding his age row (1951 instead of 50). If his date of birth was corrected, he would get to serve till March 31, 2013 instead of 2012 which would have implications for the succession plan in the Army as many top brass from whom the next Chief is to be selected would retire by then. It was perceived that General wanted to scuttle the chances of General Bikram Singh and the incumbent General Dalbir Singh Suhag succeeding him, for reasons best known to his conscience.
Now, General VK Singh was a clean man with impeccable record who during his tenure had made a mission to rid army of any sort of corruptions. He complained to AK Anthony, then Defense Minister, that he had been offered 14 crore bribe to push the deal to buy 600+ TATRA Trucks by one retired Lt Gen Tejinder Singh, who was working as an arms dealer now. Army already owned 7000 TATRA trucks purchased over the years.
Now many claimed in their article that Trucks are of substandard quality. As a petrol-head I know for sure that TATRA, are the best trucks there is for Off-highway job as well as highways. These are the only trucks that have been designed for Offroad capabilities right from its drawing boards, and On-road version are modified-light version of actual factory model. Usually its the other way round for other manufacturers. It has very low maintenance due to its unique design. Discussion of which can span a whole article (need a separate auto-tech article on this so layman can understand, maybe later).
But TATRA doesn’t come cheap and they are used for specific purpose. Majority of ARMY jobs can be entrusted to our home built cheap and robust TATA713 or Stallion. In layman’s term why buy an Innova when job can be done with a Swift.
However it can be labelled as a scam because of the price we bought it for and the funny route taken to procure it. (Needs a separate dedicated article on this also)
General VK Singh refused to sanction the deal and stalled the procurement order approved by his predecessor. Being an ex-army man himself Lt. Gen (retired) Tejinder Singh, the said arms dealer used his connections to dig deep for any muck against the General that he may had. So the TSD, the brain child of The General and Lt.Gen Loomba was the first victim. He bribed a clerk named Shyam Das to get vital information about TSD and to make VK Singh fall in line. It’s said that the arms dealer tried to blackmail him that he will leak the information to press about TSD and its workings.
When General V.K. Singh didn’t budged an inch, then came the role of Media Crooks. Best example how a sacred profession being used as a tool. Now you would be a blithering idiot of highest order to believe these services comes for free or there is no quid pro quo.
Running smear campaign against General VK Singh just started. He was accused by AK Anthony that he, himself didn’t want to pursue the 14 crore bribery issue. Ironically it was defense minister that revealed the name of retired General Tejinder Singh as the said arms dealer in the parliament itself.
Military was accused of using state of the art listening device to tap phone conversations around South Block. Media also revealed the project under which such state of the art Electronic Warfare Equipment were procured in 2010. Which country in their right mind reveals such crucial information to press?
By this time General VK Singh was retired and Bikram Singh had taken over as CoAS. The whole brunt of the tussle was about to fall on fine men of TSD. And few men were happy obviously with the change in guards.
When General Bikram Singh took office he disbanded the TSD and also ordered an investigation into its workings. The Army HQ also wanted an inquiry into the TSD by the CBI. Funny, that Army Intel Unit being investigated by a civilian agency. Antony rejected the demand, Good thought at least for once!
But washing the dirty linen was already in front of the glaring eyes of public. Obviously Media played a major role in this muck slinging.
TSD was blamed for misusing funds, using those funds to bribe one minister of J&K to topple the Omar Abdullah govt. History has it, we have the most disciplined and moral Army in the planet. Never in the dreams, can anyone think of Indian Army meddling in political affairs.
Previously a certain PIL was filed in court by an NGO known as JKHSO (Jammu and Kashmir Humanitarian Service Organisation) for an encounter in Jangalat Mandi involving General Bikram Singh in which he was awarded a gallantry medal in 2001. The general was injured in the said firefight. The Army’s version was that a Pakistani militant was killed in the encounter, while his family claimed that he was Kashmiri laborer. In April 2012, the Supreme Court dismissed the PIL which cleared his path for promotions for the post of Army Chief. The blame for this PIL was put on TSD shoulders that they funded that NGO in tune of 2.38 Crores. Funny that this news was flared in headings as soon as the retired General shared stage with our PM Modi during and ex-servicemen rally in Haryana. Obviously, some vested interest was trying to create a rift in Army top Brass, using media as a tool.
Now Lt.Gen (retd) Tejinder Singh along with a reporter from a leading newspaper, tried to barge into the premises of TSD for reason best known to him. Still murky that who leaked them the location of the otherwise discreet office. Surprisingly the great reporter failed to mention that it was the same man who is embroiled in TATRA scam. Large headline mentions ‘Retired Lt Gen’. It doesn’t mentions anywhere the Tatra truck connection. Fine piece of Journalism, Eh?
And surprisingly Army was in no mood to press any legal action for this intrusion. Instead they went full throttle against Lt. Col. Vinay Birdie, who present at the office and was in charge as an acting CO of the Unit. A court of inquiry was set to investigate Birdie alleging him leaking a “sensitive document”. The document was a questionnaire prepared and sent by a TV Media to the Army’s public relations wing, seeking information about the TSD. Why would they not? TSD, a very secretive covert UNIT’s cover was blown out of proportions!
Intelligence gathering and covert ops are dirty business. You never know what is caught in elaborate net that you have laid to catch the fish. If you remember the Radia Tapes, Barkha Dutt and her lot was not the intended target. It’s just that they were caught revealing certain things with the intended Target- corporate lobbyist- Nira Radia. Hope you got my drift!
Now when the actual nature of the job of TSD and its capabilities were revealed. Obviously many higher ups got uneasy. पता नहीं क्या क्या सुन लिया होगा? J
“A guilty conscience needs no accuser”
Its no secret that India has always been plagued with a parallel economy as stated by the, then Home Secretary, N.N.Vohra in his report of 1993, His report clearly mentions the nexus among politicians, bureaucrats and criminals. Now to move large sums of money of such economy one cannot use usual banking system which has easy tracking mechanism.
Enter: The Hawala System! Now hawala system is extensively used by Pakistan ISI to move their cash to leave no or very little paper trail. BJP RS MP Subramanian Swamy has in his numerous public interactions stated that Pakistan ISI virtually controls this Hawala channels of laundering money. 9/11 Hijackers were quickly identified due to their money trail they left in the banking system. They even return the unused cash in tune of $26000, a day before the attack. Away from the usual banking system. Hawala is hard to track unless you do HUMINT tracking on known suspects.
Imagine somebody with guilty conscience suddenly knowing through leaked report that our Army has a covert Intel unit which is equipped with state of the art snooping device. People higher up is bound to get spooked. Such equipment did existed but was deployed in J&K with 15 corps. Ironically such the equipment’s were purchased but not by Army but by Defence Intelligence Agency, coincidently Lt Gen Tejinder Singh was director general of DIA previously.
More coincidence! When Tejinder Singh was jailed for 14 crore Tatra truck bribery case to then CoAS VK Singh, guess the lawyer who appeared for this bail? (Google it, I will leave it to you)
TSD was accused of snooping into Defence Ministers office and J&K CM Omar Abdullah phone. This cooked up story was used as an excuse to bring TSD down. A court of enquiry was set up under then DGMO, Lt Gen Bhatia to investigate TSD and its men. The equipment was destroyed and all the materials burned. The panel instead of investigating the structure of TSD and its workings went ahead and started investigating, in great details the various covert missions it had conducted. Mission which was supposed to be covert in nature against the enemy, meaning it comes with complete plausible deniability factor. Information of which was leaked to press (mention on Part 1).
Names of those covert officer were made public, cover were blown. These great men of valour were sent to non-descript postings. Imagine what a huge waste of talent and courage. Only deranged mind can do such injustice to men who had put their neck deep at harm’s way to serve The Nation.
These Officers mainly the C.O. of The TSD, had to fight a long legal battle, and in the end nothing concrete was found against any of the officers. GCM was dropped. Family subjected to great ordeal one cannot put this in words.
I am surprised why current Modi Govt which is touted to be Pro-People and Pro –Army took so long to clear the case, when ex-army guy Gen VK Singh and Col Rajyavardhan Rathore themselves are part of the government later. Maybe they had other priorities, but in my opinion as coming from a fauji family, Army men has long been ignored, though there is a visible change lately. Like equipment that our army guys are getting now is state of the art by any standard.
Final humiliation was yet to come, and the most absurd one! Finally, Indian Express came out with a big front page headline “The January night Raisina Hill was spooked: Two key Army units moved towards Delhi without notifying Govt”. Written by reporter Ritu Sarin under the then Editor Shekhar Gupta, first time in history Indian Army was accused of an attempt of coup d’état.
Majority of the junta laughed at the report, as in India, Army guys comes with more trust quotient than any other establishment. Not only they are at borders keeping us safe, but are at the forefront of any tragedy, man-made or natural, to help people in need. As Maj (retd.) Gaurav Arya always says, Indian army is not just a well-equipped powerful army but also a Moral Army.
This was the lowest that anybody can go in the field of journalism. Many of their own fraternity joked about it.
Now people like Shekhar Gupta, Karan Thapar, etc, of the left liberal cabal has always toed Pakistani Line, for whatever reason best known to them. Which is a shame, considering the fact that they have been living a lavish life, earning in India.
Now Shekhar Gupta was also named in a leaked Wikileaks report, implying the fact that he is the the point man in India for Startfor. Now what is Startfor? It’s a US based intelligence think tank, It publishes its security report which are subscribed for a fee by varied organization, from private companies, corporations to Govt agency.
According to WikiLeaks, Stratfor has history of recruiting a network of informants, many of which includes government employees, embassy staff and journalists around the world. These informant were paid via Swiss banks accounts and pre-paid credit cards.
Some of its work in India involved spying on behalf of Dow Chemicals on Bhopal Gas activists. And in nowhere Couptaji has ever mentioned he had work for Startfor, if not for email that leaked, we can assume him being a covert informant then. (we can write a whole article on his kind of journalism, maybe some day)
He was also one of the three journalists name in Augusta Westland Helicopter scam, by Christian Michael to influence public opinion. Some great public service for the ‘Fourth Pillar’ eh!?
A man with such credentials writes an article accusing Army for Coup. People will bound to be enraged. Hence Twitterati coined the name ‘Couptaji’ for him. There is a series of video by him on his new rag The Print YouTube channel advising what Pakistan should do. Funny eh? Man living in India advising Pakistan. देखो और खुब कोषों , Maybe someone’s curse gets better off him someday.
All in all they did great disservice to this Nation. TSD was killed for no reason. Its utility is still felt today when encounter like Handwara happens, where people misinformed our men. Such incident can be easily avoided when you have a forever working dedicated covert HUMINT Unit. We civvies doesn’t need to know the details about.
Thanks for taking time to read a very lengthy article.
You may also like a lengthy an eye opening article on Urban Naxals here. My first stint on writing. Thanks!!! people of Opindia who thought it, worthy of publishing.
- @SumonaChakrabo8 (You have been my inspirations to write)
- @LevinaNeythiri of resonantnews.com (Thanks for following me, and taking time to reply my DM umpteen times)
- Ajit Dubey Sir @ajitkdubey (leading journalist @ani who relentlessly followed this case, Cannot Thank you more)
- Ravi Narayan Sir who writes mediacrooks.com blog (He has been following these crooks in media since 2010, Infact he was the one who encouraged to write back then, but then lockdown only happened now! 🙂 )