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Lt Gen Bikram Singh All Set To Be Next Army Chief

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NEW DELHI: The government is all set to announce the appointment of Eastern Army Commander Lt General Bikram Singh as the next Army chief, after an elaborate vetting process including an unusual and detailed intelligence check on his family. The announcement will bring to an end the unsavoury succession battle marred by several controversies and sniper attacks.

According to senior government sources, the file proposing Lt Gen Bikram Singh as the next Army chief is in the final stages, and would be put up for approval of the Cabinet Committee on Appointments sometime in the next two weeks. The approval, a source said, could come as early as in the first week of March.

The process for appointing Gen V K Singh's successor, however, included an unusual intelligence check on his family members. Sources said the defence ministry sought clearance from intelligence agencies on Lt Gen Bikram Singh's daughter-in-law.

The move was prompted by several complaints, from political leaders as well as others, alleging that Lt Gen Singh's daughter-in-law was a Pakistani, and thus his appointment had potential security implications.

According to sources, intelligence agencies have given a clean chit to Lt Gen Singh, rubbishing the allegations. According to the agencies, his eldest daughter-in-law is an American citizen, whose father is an Afghan and mother is from Central Asia. In fact, the agencies also reported that she had converted to Sikhism upon marriage. "The agencies have given a clean chit. The allegations were unwanted efforts to target him," a senior government source said.

He said they had received detailed resumes of the three senior-most Army Commanders - Lt Gen Bikram Singh, Lt Gen Shri Krishna Singh and Lt Gen K T Parnaik -- from the Army Headquarters and had carryied out other processes such as the routine check by Intelligence Bureau.

The customary procedures would lead to the defence ministry listing Lt Gen Bikram Singh as the senior-most in the line to succeed Gen V K Singh. The file proposing his appointment would then be put up to the Cabinet Committee on Appointments for final approval.

The government official said they were expecting to conclude the process of Lt Gen Singh's appointment by March 10. "We are not hurrying up anything. We will go by the standard practice," he said. The official also dismissed earlier rumours that the government may announce the new Army chief soon.

Gen V K Singh retires on May 31. The usual practice is to announce the successor two months before the retirement of the chief.


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Lt Gen Bikram Singh is new Army Chief

NEW DELHI: Ending the suspense, Government on Saturday announced the appointment of Lt Gen Bikram Singh as the next Army Chief from May 31 to succeed General V K Singh.

59-year-old Lt Gen Singh, the Eastern Army Commander, will head the 13-lakh strong force and have a tenure of just over two years till August 2014.

"Lt Gen Singh has been designated as the next Chief of Army Staff, in the rank of General, with effect from the afternoon of 31 May 2012," defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said here.

"He will succeed the present COAS Gen V K Singh, who retires from the service on May 31," he added.

As per the normal practice, the appointment of Chiefs of Defence Services is announced 60 days in advance but in this case, the government made the announcement 90 days in advance.

Lt Gen Bikram Singh was the senior most among the present Army Commanders but his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff had got caught in a suspense as Gen V K Singh was fighting out his date of birth battle that would have given him tenure till April next year.

There had been questions over Gen Bikram Singh in connection with an alleged fake encounter in Kashmir but the government went ahead to appoint him as the Army Chief.

Gen V K Singh, who had two dates of birth in his official records, had dragged the government to the Supreme Court, contending that he was born on May 10, 1951 and not a year later.

However, the top court refused to accept his contention, holding that he had taken promotions on the basis of May 10,1950 as his date of birth and could not "resile" on his commitment accepting that date.


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