In a strong counter to claims by previous Army Chief Gen V K Singh that all ministers in Jammu and Kashmir were being paid money by the Army since Independence,eight former Army Chiefs came together on Friday to rubbish the statement.
They asserted that no funds were ever provided to any politician during their tenures,and stressed that the Army does not dabble in politics.
The former Army Chiefs,some of whom have spoken out on the issue in the past few days,said in a joint statement that they would have never allowed any such activity,and also countered a claim by V K Singh that the funds were given under the umbrella of the Sadhbhavna operations.
No funds were ever provided by the Army,to any politicians,political party or any NGO in their tenures and nor would they have allowed that, said the statement issued by Generals O P Malhotra,S F Rodrigues,S Roychowdhury,V P Malik,S Padmanabhan,N C Vij,J J Singh and Deepak Kapoor.
The eight Chiefs encompass the entire leadership of the Indian Army since 1990,barring Gen B C Joshi,who passed away while in service in 1994.
The former Chiefs have also stressed that the Sadbhavna (goodwill) operations should not be mixed with this aspect,referring to a subsequent statement by V K Singh that the money was paid under the umbrella of Sadbhavna. His second statement was seen as a damage control exercise.
This aspect should not be mixed with Sadhbhavna operations,which are carried out to provide infrastructure,education and health services etc to the local populace in J&K and for this both pre- and post-audited funds,with laid down deliverables and procedures,are allotted in the defence budget, the joint statement said.
Operation Sadbhavna was launched by the Army only in 1998.
Reflecting the sentiments of the ex-servicemen community,the retired chiefs also emphasised that the Army is an apolitical force and takes pride in this old tradition. They further stressed that the Indian Army is completely apolitical and that they do not dabble in politics and the Army takes great pride in this time honoured tradition, the statement said.
Earlier this week,V K Singh had told Times Now that the Army has been paying all ministers in J&K since Independence for stabilisation. Those comments came after The Indian Express reported that an Army panel had found that a secretive Military Intelligence unit set up by him had paid the agriculture minister of the state to destabilise the government.
Singh told news agency PTI Friday that allegations that intelligence funds were used to try and topple the J&K government are false and motivated.