The influential Indian Express newspaper on Wednesday reported that in mid-January two units, including a Special Forces battalion had marched on New Delhi without telling the proper authorities.
Daily Indian Express has stirred controversy in India by claiming that the government interpreted some un-notified troop movements this January as possible mobilization for a military coup d’etat. The Indian Express report said the government had taken measures as a precaution on the night of January 16-17, including asking lookouts to identify the troops involved and ordering police to take measures to slow traffic on the highways into the capital. “Essentially, late on the night of 16th January (the day Army Chief General V. K. Singh approached the Supreme Court on his date of birth issue), central intelligence agencies reported an unexpected movement by a key military unit, from the mechanised infantry based in Hisar (Haryana) as a part of the 33rd Armoured Division commanded by Lt Gen. A. K. Singh) in the direction of the capital, 150 km away,” the report read. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister A.K. Antony described the report as baseless. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later said the report was alarmist and it should not be taken at face value.There was yet another report of military movement towards Delhi, and the unit was identified as a large element of the airborne 50 Para Brigade based at Agra. The Indian Express reported that “elements in the government remained suspicious and on edge until the army put all its toys back in the box”. The tiff existed between the government and the military because of a letter written to Prime Minister Singh last month about the inadequate state of India’s defences, which was leaked. “The relationship between the army and political leadership of the country is at an all-time low,” the spokesman for the main opposition, the Bharatiya Janata Party, Ravishankar Prasad, told reporters. “The equilibrium between the civilian leadership and the army must be restored and respected,” he added. Anyhow, immediately after the publication there appeared numerous comments discussing the theme of the military coup. And all this despite the fact that the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as well as the Defence Minister A. K. Antony, and the chief of the army headquarters General Vijay Kumar Singh completely dismissed the information of the newspaper as groundless. Voice of Russia carried a comment by an expert of the Russian Institute of Strategic Research Boris Volkhonsky, who noted: “That in the information of the Indian newspaper one fact is unusual: during the 65 years of the independence of India, the army stayed absolutely out of politics, and India by right was proud of its title of the world’s largest democracy, in contrast, for example, to the neighbouring Pakistan”.
According to the analysts and experts, many people in India are not satisfied with the present government. Yet they reckon that none of the political forces will support a military coup and believe that the rumours about a possible coup d’etat are exaggerated. Boris Volkhonsky said: “Today India is going through a difficult period. The last year’s broad anti-corruption campaign and the deplorable results of the party in power at the regional elections of 2011-2012 tell us that the position of the central government is considerably weakened, and at the best it can hold out until the next elections, which are planned for 2014. But the alternative of early elections is not excluded.”Whereas cultural diversity can be the cause for contradictions and conflicts between the ethnic groups, the reason for domination of political class over military in India is because Indian army comprises various races and ethnicities vis-à-vis Punjabi Sikhs, Marhatas, Bengalis, Biharis and many other nationalities.This is also one of the reasons that that is no real danger for military coup. India is considered as the largest democracy of the world; its economic growth rate has been between eight to nine per cent for years; and since last year it has declined to 6 per cent and the downslide continues. There is already appalling poverty in India, as more than fifty per cent population is living below the poverty line. According South Asia Terrorism Portal, “at least 231 of the country’s 608 Districts were afflicted, at differing intensities, by various insurgent and terrorist movements. Terrorism in Jammu & Kashmir (12 of the State’s 14 districts), in different States of the Northeast (54 districts) and Left Wing extremism (affecting at least 165 districts in 14 States) continued to pose serious challenges to the country’s security framework. In addition, wide areas of the country appear to have ‘fallen off the map’ of good governance, and are acutely susceptible to violent political mobilization, lawlessness and organized criminal activity”. In this backdrop one can conclude that India can implode from within without any outside effort. Because of widespread disaffection due to atrocities perpetrated by the army and inept policies of Indian government, law and order situation in all 13 Naxal affected states such as Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Western Orissa and Bihar is hopeless. India faces insurgencies in Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Bodoland, Manipur and Tripura also where it is using heavy-handed methods and use of brutal force to quell the unrest, which fact has been censured by human rights organizations including Amnesty International. In this backdrop, the comment from Voice of Russia in its comment about the rumours about military coup in India sounds relevant which said: “As the saying goes, there is no smoke without a fire”.
By Mohammad Jamil
The Frontier Post Daily English news paper
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