Paper says India army units spooked govt, ministry denies

Published: April 4, 2012

Army, Defence Ministry say units were engaged in routine exercises to test mobility in fog. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

NEW DELHI: Two Indian army units that moved towards New Delhi on a January night without notifying the government raised alarm in the capital, the Indian Express newspaper reported on Wednesday, but the Defense Ministry and army quickly denied the report. 

The infantry unit of the 33rd Armoured Division based 150 from Delhi and a unit of the airborne 50 Para brigade based in Agra to the south reached the outskirts of Delhi before being ordered back, the newspaper said.

The army and Defence Ministry said the units were engaged in routine exercises to test mobility in fog and did not need to warn the government in advance. Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar told Reuters it was not true the manoeuvres had caused alarm.

Defence Minister AK Antony said the exercises were normal and he was fully confident the armed forces would not do anything to undermine India’s democracy.

“This is baseless. In the ministry, with the minister, there is no communication gap. There is no trust deficit. I have full faith in them. They are working together,” he told reporters after a ceremony to launch a nuclear submarine.

The troop movements happened at a time of friction between the army chief, General Vijay Kumar Singh, and the government. The newspaper said the accepted view is there was a breakdown in communication rather than a plot of any kind.

The military in India, the world’s largest democracy, has traditionally stayed out of politics and is not known for conspiring against governments in a region plagued by instability.

On the night in question, lookouts confirmed the two units were travelling towards New Delhi, the newspaper said.

Antony was informed and the government ordered police to check all vehicles on roads to Delhi as a way of slowing traffic. The defence secretary, the ministry’s top civil servant, cut short a trip to Malaysia to handle the situation, the newspaper said.

The report highlights deep rifts and a tension in recent months between the world’s second largest standing army and the government.

On January 16, the day the exercises took place, army chief Singh took a case against the government to the Supreme Court in a row about whether he could serve another year before retiring. He later lost the case.

Last week, Singh said he was offered a $2.8 million bribe and accused the defence minister of not acting on information about corruption in the forces. He also wrote a letter to the prime minister in March saying the army was not in proper shape to defend the country. The letter was leaked.

Reader Comments (37)

  • Adam
    Apr 4, 2012 - 12:51PM

    Well..Well..Well….this is something really frightening. It seems as if there is something fishy going on in India….

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  • Max-lol
    Apr 4, 2012 - 12:58PM

    One crazy army general and too much fodder fodder for news channels.

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  • Apr 4, 2012 - 1:22PM

    I say again… This is the time for Ghazwa-e-Hind!

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  • major-ji
    Apr 4, 2012 - 1:35PM

    For God sake ET do not dramatise normal moves of Indian Army. When India has no history of its Army findling in political affairs why you want to make a story out of nothing. It is called yellow journalism. At least it does not suit to high statured newspaper-ET.

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  • Manoj
    Apr 4, 2012 - 1:49PM

    India is too big to come under army rule.

    Secondly, Army chief is a law abiding citizen, hence he went to Supreme court to resolve the age related dispute.

    SC just rejected his plea and Army chief as all other Indian do, accepted the judgement with all humility.

    Hence, to suggest that coup was in progress is just kite flying nothing else. Army chief would not have gone to court had he planned for a coup.

    Indian democracy and people’s love for democracy is too strong for any army or dictator to go against it. Indira Gandhi in 1975 had tried for it and had paid heavy price for it.

    So every body, relax and rejoice the Indian democracy.

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  • Sanjay Swain
    Apr 4, 2012 - 1:49PM

    Well. It is a good move of Indian Army. Corruption in so high then this is an welcome move. Bad politician will punished those are looting India. I support if army is moving to less the corruption. Also I am requesting the Army please join ana hazare ji and through out the corruption from our country. I love my country. Jai Hind.Recommend

  • Satish
    Apr 4, 2012 - 1:55PM

    There is no threat whatsoever to the democratic set up in India. Indians respect and value democracy. Media today thrives on sensationalism.

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  • AD
    Apr 4, 2012 - 1:58PM

    Don’t worry no Army General in India can dare to coup.India is such a vast and democratic setup that he would himself end up sacked and locked.Meanwhile,Although i would luv to see corrupt politician being punished.

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  • Blithe
    Apr 4, 2012 - 2:03PM

    Funny!

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  • Yash
    Apr 4, 2012 - 2:06PM

    lol….nice one…

    btw…in india….army is not a separate entity…its just the defence arm of the govt which is highly reputed and respectable…indian citizens and army share a relationship of deep trust which cant be broken by stupid rumours…there has never been…nor there will be any coup in india ever

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  • SimHum
    Apr 4, 2012 - 2:19PM

    @major-ji:
    Yes ET please only dramatize Pakistan related news, you hurt little Indian feelings by publishing such stories. Now ET you dont want to lose your biggest commentators.

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  • Cynical
    Apr 4, 2012 - 2:42PM

    Once India comes under Army rule, we will be equal.
    No more inferiority complex for being ruled by Army for most part of 64 years.

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  • Kashmirian
    Apr 4, 2012 - 3:05PM

    I think days are not far when india will find its place in military ruled countries, it is just a matter of time now.

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  • Vishal
    Apr 4, 2012 - 3:08PM

    Don’t worry ET,Coup will never occur in India in Normal Cicumstances(although I wish this to happen)

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  • Truth_Prevails
    Apr 4, 2012 - 3:16PM

    LOL!!! nice to see a lot of Indian readers around. Good, ET is exporting some services to India. I hope the Indian Govt doesn’t notice this else they might end up blocking ET in India.

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  • Ahsan
    Apr 4, 2012 - 3:18PM

    I wonder why indians need so much explanation to do when it is actually a non-issue. There’s something fishy….

    And india isnt bigger than China or Russia where Military have been ruling, directly or indirectly…

    All the indian comments are a mere reflection of their wishes and fear…

    But We all hope democracy is fiddled or India may be in big trouble.

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  • Apr 4, 2012 - 3:39PM

    lol… really interesting where are ET indian fan club now….

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  • Rizwan
    Apr 4, 2012 - 3:44PM

    In India there is a chain of command the Chief Of Army Staff reports to the Sectary Defence .India has kept their Army in check and balance system there is accountability and they have to obey orders .

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  • Kirpa Ram
    Apr 4, 2012 - 3:50PM

    General Vijay should go ahead with the coup. He has silwnt support of the masses.

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  • Apr 4, 2012 - 4:02PM

    @major-ji:
    This report has been published by Indian Express & not Express Tribune.

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  • Indian
    Apr 4, 2012 - 4:03PM

    nothing will happen like that. but i want it to send some message to pakistan.

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  • Angry
    Apr 4, 2012 - 4:24PM

    Now that the US has made a pal out of India, coups should also follow!

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  • major-ji
    Apr 4, 2012 - 4:49PM

    @SimHum:
    Drama is drama and knows no borders. ET should avoid drama unless it carries some authencity.

    @A R Khan Yusufzai:
    Does not mean what Indian Express publishes should be reported in ET without confirmation or investigation. This what yellow journalism is.

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  • Deva
    Apr 4, 2012 - 5:13PM

    indian army always used its evil powers in past, 1984 indian forces carried out operation shudikaran, codename of raping sikh women to change their caste, that was the ugliest part of human history, even today they r killing innocent kashmiris and maoists nationalists

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  • yellow belly up
    Apr 4, 2012 - 5:51PM

    so routine exercise becomes an Army coup?even the biggest illiterate understand that India cannot be run by the Army. India is unlike most other nations with 24 official languages and hundreds if not thousands of dialects and cultures. Besides, democracy in India is so well entrenched that is impossible for a coup to occur in India-like the Western democracies in a democracy cannot be tampered with and neither is it possible to have any other form of governments.

    Indian media just like to sensationalize things. Which is sad because even a rumor like this puts us in the same league inadvertently with other failed states were not been able to keep their democracy intact.

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Apr 4, 2012 - 6:10PM

    @yellow belly up:
    There is no point in talking sense. Let the trolls enjoy while it lasts.

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  • jack
    Apr 4, 2012 - 6:28PM

    If india comes under military rule it will be nightmare for pakistan….but don’t worry it will never ever happen….

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  • Ayesha Khan
    Apr 4, 2012 - 6:43PM

    @Rizwan: “In India there is a chain of command the Chief Of Army Staff reports to the Sectary Defence .India has kept their Army in check and balance system there is accountability and they have to obey orders .”

    Directionally you are correct but COAS reports to defense minister

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  • Paras Vikmani
    Apr 4, 2012 - 7:42PM

    Lol this is a sensational news.
    No truth in that.

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  • Baal Thakary
    Apr 4, 2012 - 7:59PM

    Next stop.. Akhand Bharat! Jai Hind!!

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  • Balma
    Apr 4, 2012 - 8:19PM

    Last time this happend, the units moving first into Dehli came from Meerut.
    Time frame: 1857.

    Reasons: Please read Sir Syed Ahmed Khan’s Asbaab-e-baghaavat-e-Hind.

    Who started it: The Hindu soldiers from the Eastern section of United Provinces of Awadh and Agra (UP). The Poorbiyaas.

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  • Cautious
    Apr 4, 2012 - 8:43PM

    A nice reminder that India Democracy has it’s own share of problems.

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  • Strigon
    Apr 4, 2012 - 8:46PM

    What would have been funny is if something had went wrong. i.e. a guard shooting at them in suspicion of terrorists then blaming it blindly on Pakistan. Typical Indian behavior.

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  • John B
    Apr 4, 2012 - 10:26PM

    Nice news to illustrate how a communication gap and some imagination will do the job of the day.

    In India army won’t even get a liter of gas without the defense ministry and finance ministry oversight. Please understand different countries make up of government structure.

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  • Pollack
    Apr 5, 2012 - 12:00AM

    @Cautious: Don’t worry. Indian army will never launch an attack on another country without telling the PM like pakmil did during Kargil.

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  • You Said It
    Apr 5, 2012 - 1:13AM

    @Kashmirian:
    I think days are not far when india will find its place in military ruled countries, it is just a matter of time now.

    OK since this day is not far, how about you fast until that happens: I suggest you stop eating and drinking until that day.

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  • Indian Kashmirian
    Apr 5, 2012 - 10:04AM

    @Kashmirian:
    Days may not be very far too when Pakistan will cease to exist then!!!

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