Manish Tewari’s Troop March Claim Triggers Controversy

“The Indian Express report on unauthorised 2012 troop movement was true,” said Congress’ Manish Tewari.

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Congress leader Manish Tewari addresses during INFOCOM 2015 in Kolkata, on Dec 3, 2015. (Photo: IANS)

Former Union Minister Manish Tewari has raked up the 2012 troop movement controversy, saying a media report about army units moving towards Delhi without notifying the then UPA government was “unfortunate but true” even as his own party distanced itself from his claims while former Army Chief VK Singh rubbished the remarks.

VK Singh dismissed the claims and called the Congress leader jobless even as the BJP questioned the timing of the remarks and demanded a statement from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the matter.

Replying to a question at a book release function on Saturday, Tewari had said,

At that point of time I used to serve in the Standing Committee on Defence. And it’s unfortunate but the story was true. I am not getting into an argument. All I am saying is that to the best of my knowledge that story was correct.

The Congress leader was asked about media coverage of issues pertaining to defence forces as in the case of the Indian Express report on April 4, 2012, titled “The January night Raisina Hill was spooked: Two key Army units moved towards Delhi without notifying Govt.”

Reacting to his remark, former Army chief and Union Minister VK Singh said,

He should be told to read my book, which reveals all (about the issue). He (Tewari) has no work these days.

VK Singh, former Army Chief

The Congress on its part has distanced itself from Tewari’s claims.

“We on behalf of Congress very clearly and categorically want to deny this report,” party spokesperson P C Chacko said. Another party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said there is no truth in the report.

My colleague was neither a member of the Cabinet Committee on Security, nor any relevant decision making body. Some troop movements are necessary, inbuilt and inevitable part of the defence mechanism. It was inappropriate, unnecessary and completely wrong to suggest that there was any truth in those allegations when made.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Congress spokesperson

According to The Indian Express report, central intelligence agencies had reported that on the night of January 16, 2012 there was an unexpected - and non-notified - movement by a key military unit from mechanised infantry based in Hisar in the direction of the capital.

Shekhar Gupta, former Editor-in-Chief of the Indian Express said Tewari’s comment was a bold one.

Manish Tewari’s Troop March Claim Triggers Controversy

What Manish Tewari said is a bold thing, better late than never. It has once again opened debate in the story, which I think is a welcome. As far as we are concerned, we know the when and what of the story but we don’t know why and how of the story. We don’t know the motive, but the fact is such a distrust did come up.

Shekhar Gupta, former Editor-in-Chief, The Indian Express

On the same night, another unit – identified as a large element of the 50th Para Brigade based at Agra – had also been moved towards Delhi, according to the newspaper report.

The alleged movement took place at a time when Singh was locked in a confrontation with the government in a row over his age.

Questioning the timing of the remarks, the BJP demanded a statement from former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Defence Minister A K Antony on the issue.

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