NEW DELHI: The defence ministry has denied reports that two key Army units moved towards Delhi this January without prior notification.
According to Times Now, the Indian Army has also rejected the conclusions drawn in the report and has said that such exercises are routine procedure.
“The points raised in the report have already been clarified by the Army… such exercises are conducted by the Army from time to time,” defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said in a statement, according to PTI.
According to a report appearing in The Indian Express, late on the night of January 16, central intelligence agencies reported an unexpected and non-notified movement by a key military unit from the mechanised infantry based in Hisar(Haryana).
This was the day Army chief Gen VK Singh had approached the Supreme Court on his date of birth issue.
The newspaper report states lookouts were alerted as a routine step. This was as part of a protocol put in place in June 1984, when some mutineers from Sikh units had moved towards national capital in the wake of Operation Bluestar.
The lookouts confirmed the movement of what looked like a sizeable unit.
It was soon identified as an entire unit of mechanised Infantry with its Russian made armoured fighting vehicles(AFVs) carried on 48 tank transporters. There was concern as no such movement had been notified. Further, the Army Day celebrations had ended on January 15.
The situation turned into further alarm when reports came in of yet another military movement ‘towards’ Delhi, the report claims.
This unit was identified as a large element of the airborne 50 Para brigade based at Agra.
The lookout was activated south of Delhi as well and the column was identified.
By this time both the columns were being tracked and ‘watched’.
The report says the defence minister was informed and the Centre put in motion an old contingency plan to delay such a move. An alert was issued to police to check all vehicles on the highways leading to Delhi in a bid to slow down the traffic.
The Prime Minister was informed about the developments in the early morning hours of January 17.
The report further states that defence secretary Shashi Kant Sharma was asked to cut short his visit to Malaysia.
The defence secretary opened his office late at night and sought an explanation from Lt Gen AK Chaudhary, Director General Military Operations.
Lt Gen Chaudhary called it a routine exercise. The Army’s explanation was that it was carrying out exercises to check its ability to make quick deployments of key units during fog.
The DGMO was told to send back both the units immediately.
The newspaper claims that Army’s explanation of it being a simple fog-time exercise was viewed with scepticism at the highest level.
Reacting to the story, the BJP has demanded an explanation from the government and the Prime Minister.
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has tweeted that the Prime Minister should clear the air on the issue.