Letters | Aug 16, 1999
  • Brig Surinder Singh: Victim or Villain?
    Aug 16, 1999

    Your cover story Command Failure (August 2) regarding the lapses in Kargil was brilliant. It does seem unlikely that one of the best army organisations in the world would have been complacent enough to have overlooked the entry of infiltrators across the LoC. Your story clears all doubt. The politicians, as always, have once again proved their might!

    Ipshita Chatterjee, on e-mail

    No military man will ever believe your story on Brig Surinder Singh, firstly, because he had no authority to directly write to anyone except his immediate superior and only for redressal of grievances to the military secretary. His so-called advisory letters to the COAS, army commander and corps commander are therefore just a figment of imagination. Secondly, the fact remains that the brigadier, with 3,000 men under his command, was in Kargil to defend the sector of his operational responsibility against enemy incursions, intrusions and encroachments. The area of responsibility may have been large but that was no excuse for not patrolling it.

    Let your esteemed magazine not play politics with the services and have faith in their internal system of fair play and natural justice.

    Lt Col N.P. Singh (rtd), Mumbai

    Every organisation has its own internal politics which causes resentment among its people. But one learns to live with these resentments and strive for the success of their organisation. It’s only when the media interferes and takes sides that irreparable damage is done, which is what Outlook’s been doing to the defence forces of this country for the past year or so. It was the navy first and the infantry now.

    K.V. Sharma, Bangalore

    Command Failure is not a piece of investigative journalism but a sponsored article by Brig Surinder Singh.

    Brig H.M. Pant (rtd), Chandigarh

    The real issue isn’t whether Brig Surinder Singh informed his immediate superior first or whether he wrote directly to the COAS but whether he wrote these letters at all. If he did, he needs to be commended, despite the minor infringement of protocol. What one also needs to know now is whether his posting to Secunderabad for three days, followed by a posting to the east, is a “punishment” or he’s being kept “away” because someone’s trying to hide something.

    Brig K.S. Chhokar, Delhi

    Is Outlook on a contract with the Congress to confuse its readers on vital issues such as national security?

    It’s sad that the Opposition is trying to capitalise on the deaths of our valiant soldiers. The army chief has denied receipt of any letter from Brig Surinder Singh and maintained that letters from the brigade commander were not addressed directly to him. The DGMO too has clarified that it was not an intelligence failure but the lack of sophisticated surveillance equipment and prevailing conditions at such heights that made constant watch impossible. Your biased stories may help the Congress gain a few seats but Outlook will definitely lose its credibility in the process.

    Vijay K. Chaturvedi, Jaipur

    The cover-up of mistakes in Kargil by the army top brass and the Centre is disdainful. Regrettably, instead of feeling guilty, they’re making a scapegoat of an honest of?cer. Our PM should not hesitate from summarily dismissing the whole guilty line-up, right from George Fernandes to the GoC, 3 Infantry Div. Such an action would be more in the interest of national security than the sacking of Adml Bhagwat.

    Dr R.V.S. Pawaiya, Avikanagar, Rajasthan

    There’s much being said about security and intelligence lapses but the true renegades are the bureaucrats, whose hollow speeches and dissipate actions cannot gratify the empty stomachs of those left behind by the ‘martyrs’.

    Ranbir Singh, Jammu

    Whether or not Surinder Singh is guilty of dereliction of duty, there are larger lessons to be learnt. First, that army effort is being diverted more towards aid to civil power (since independence, the army has been called out for aid to civil power approximately once in four days somewhere or the other, for some reason or the other) rather than in the country’s defence. Second, the service chiefs need to assert themselves more and not bow to unreasonable pressure of the defence ministry. They should worry less about personal repercussions or lost post-retirement career options. Third, the army top brass (and, by extension, the defence ministry and the government) need to be more transparent in their inquiry into the failure(s) leading to the Kargil war. If they’re at fault, they should have the guts to admit it. If the army can’t show that kind of moral ?bre, who else can?

    V. Pandurang Rao, on e-mail

    After reading your cover story, I feel that if the defence minister has the slightest morality , he should accept the lapses and failures in Kargil, resign immediately and not contest any election. The biggest enemy of the army and the nation are our political leaders. They will not even hesitate to cash in on the deaths of jawans for their political games.

    Dr Rajendra Bhatt, Palanpur, Gujarat

    Shelling takes place all along the LoC and to infer that, based on Singh’s experience as a company commander, heavy artillery fire in August heralded an invasion the following May is rather thin. The report that a brigade commander had written to the army chief several times bypassing the chain of command is unbelievable. Had Singh done this, he would have been relieved of his command in November, not in June.

    Arun Visvanathan, on e-mail

    It’s regrettable that so many of our young soldiers had to lose their lives because of command failure. As for Bal Thackeray, the way he’s targeted Muslims, he has once again reinforced his communalistic attitude. It’s extremely mean and derisive to question the loyalty of our Muslim brethren whose contributions and services stand on par with anyone. Such a slanderous remark is absolutely contemptible and was befittingly condemned by Ajit Bhattacharjea in Grapes of Patriotism.

    R.S. Narayanan, on e-mail

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