NEW DELHI: India has chosen Lieutenant General Bikram Singh as its next Army chief, a government statement said on Saturday. He will replace General VK Singh, who will be officially retiring on May 31.
"Lt General Bikram Singh has been designated as the next chief of army staff in the rank of general, with effect from the afternoon of May 31, 2012,"
Singh currently heads the army's eastern command.
The 59 year old will be the first army chief, amongst recruits, who joined after the 1971 war with Pakistan. He will be the second Sikh to head the army after General JJ Singh.
Singh was commissioned into Sikh Light Infantry Regiment in 1972 after finishing his course at the National Defense Academy & Indian Military Academy.
Other short-listed candidates included Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen Shri Krishna Singh and Northern Army Commander Lt Gen KT Parnaik. Singh was chosen for being the senior most amongst them.
Singh’s appointment as army chief comes after a scrutinising vetting process in wake of allegations that he was involved in a fake shootout case in Indian Administered Kashmir and having an alleged Pakistani daughter-in-law.
The army chief designate was allegedly involved in a fake shootout in Indian Administered Kashmir in March 2001. The mother of an alleged militant, killed in a south Kashmir village, claimed that his son was a laborer and troops headed by Singh had killed him in a staged gun battle.
However, Kashmir Police had cleared him in the case, even though a petition was still pending in Jammu & Kashmir ‘s High Court.
Another allegation against Singh, reported by the Indian media, was that the Defence ministry had sought a detailed clearance from intelligence agencies on his eldest daughter-in-law who was alleged to be a Pakistani citizen, which had raised fears of "security risks and implications". However, agencies rubbished this and informed the ministry that Singh’s daughter-in-law was a US citizen, having an Afghan father and a Central Asian mother.
Earlier incumbent General VK Singh, who was engaged in a bitter legal battle over his date of birth, was issued a Retirement Warning Letter (RWL) by Military Secretary's branch early this week after months of row over his age which was finally settled in the Supreme Court last month.