Sunday 08 December 2019, 09:04 AM
Army chief shuns comment on likely successor s shootout case
By IANS | Bharat Defence Kavach | Publish Date: 1/10/2012 12:00:00 AM
Army chief shuns comment on likely successor s shootout case

New Delhi :  Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh Tuesday refused to comment on a controversy surrounding his likely successor Lt.Gen. Bikram Singh, accused of staging a 2001 shootout in Kashmir in which an alleged foreign militant was killed. The allegation can mar his chances for the top post.

"The report (about Bikram Singh) is not with us. When it comes to us, we will let you know," the army chief told reporters here on the sidelines of a defence function.

Lt.Gen. Bikram Singh, currently the senior most lieutenant general of the Indian Army, is tipped to be next chief of the 1.3 million force.

The army chief was asked about a writ petition filed by a Kashmiri mother, Zaituna, alleging that the militant killed in the March 1, 2001, south Kashmir shootout may be her son Abdullah Bhat, a resident of Machil border area in north Kashmir.

The lieutenant general was then brigading the 5 Sector Rashtriya Rifles unit headquartered in south Kashmir Anantnag district. The shootout took place in Janglat Mandi under Bikram Singh''s control.

The army had then claimed to have killed Mateen Chacha in a gunfight with militants that also led to the death of two civilians and two army personnel.

Bikram Singh, now commanding the Eastern Command, was also injured in the cross fire. The police in their report on the shootout had confirmed the army claims.

But a decade later, Zaituna filed a petition in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court last year claiming the militant was her son. Zaituna''s daughter Jana is a co-petitioner.

The petition seeks reinvestigation of the case and remains of the alleged militant exhumed for DNA test.

"The photographs of the victim (killed militant) taken by police must also be shown to the family for identifying," the petitioners said.

The court in its order on Oct 13, 2011, asked the state government and the defence ministry to file their responses to the petition and sought all records pertaining to the case for perusal. The case has come up for hearing several times in the court but has been consistently deferred to next dates.

It is now expected to be taken up for hearing in February when the high court re-convenes in Srinagar after a month-long winter vacation.

Asked if the allegations could affect the chances of Bikram Singh for the top job, the army chief said: "I have got no clue on this."

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Army chief shuns comment on likely successor s shootout case

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