Get on with work, bury army chief age row, says Antony


New Delhi : Expressing happiness that the controversy over Indian Army chief General V.K. Singh’s age has blown over, Defence Minister A.K. Antony called for an “atmosphere of reconciliation” so that everyone could “work together to strengthen national security”.

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“I am very happy this controversy is over,” Antony told reporters on the sidelines of the Asian Security Conference.

“It is my request to all my colleagues and all of you (the media) to please close this chapter and let us work together to strengthen national security,” Antony said.

“In the interest of national security, please forget about this issue. Let us bury it. Let’s work together to bury it now. Let us create an atmosphere of reconciliation. Let us cool down tempers,” the defence minister added.

Asked if Gen. Singh had offered to resign in the wake of the Supreme Court refusing to entertain his plea to consider May 10, 1951, as his birth date instead of a year earlier, Antony replied: “The government has full faith in the present chief, as we stated before the Supreme Court.”

The defence minister’s remarks came on the day Gen. Singh began a visit to Britain, the first by an Indian Army chief since 2008.

Antony himself began a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia Monday, the first by an Indian defence minister.

On Feb 10, a Supreme Court bench of Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice H.L. Gokhale made it clear that Gen. Singh’s date of birth for service purposes would continue to be May 10, 1950, and not May 10, 1951, as mentioned in his school leaving certificate. Gen Singh consequently withdrew his plea.

The army chief had gone to the Supreme Court Jan 16 insisting he was actually born May 10, 1951, not in 1950 as claimed by the government.