Parliament panel slams media report on troop movement

New Delhi, April 30: Dismissing a media report that the Indian Army moved troops unauthorisedly towards the national capital on Jan 16/17 night, a parliamentary panel Monday expressed ‘regret’ over the ‘wrong inferences, surmises and conjectures’ of the newspaper.

In its report tabled in parliament, the parliamentary committee on defence said the committee has taken note of the ‘satisfactory explanation’ given by Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma that the media report was based on ‘wrong inferences, surmises and conjectures’ and is ‘strongly dismissed’.

‘The committee while taking note of the satisfactory explanation given by the defence secretary regret the reporting by a leading newspaper, particularly when it relates to the routine exercise of the troops for ensuring the operational preparedness,’ the report said.

Earlier in the day, Defence Minister A.K. Antony had told the Lok Sabha in reply to questions that the mobilisation was for ‘routine training exercises’ and hence ‘no action was taken to fix responsibility’.

Less than a week ago, he had clarified in Rajya Sabha that the troops movement was ‘purely for training purposes’.

A leading Delhi newspaper, in a page one report earlier this month, had claimed that centre was alarmed by the movement of units from the 50 Independent Para Brigade and 33 Armoured Division towards the national capital, leading to the defence secretary being called back from a visit to Malaysia.

Sharma and army vice chief Lt. Gen. S.K. Singh had previously clarified on the issue when they appeared before the standing committee.

The parliamentary panel, in its report, said it took up the media report for examination even before it studied the demands for grants for the defence ministry for 2012-13.

During the sittings, Sharma submitted the ‘factual’ position before it, saying the movement of troops was purely for training purposes aimed at refining the mobilisation drills and ensuing operational preparedness of the army despite adverse weather conditions.

On the issue of seeking the defence ministry permission or intimating the defence ministry about such movement, Sharma also submitted that to the best of his knowledge there is no such government order.

IANS