The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kargil bomb ticks again

Chandigarh, June 7: A sacked brigadier in charge of the Kargil sector during the 1999 war has threatened to “expose” top army commanders who he said had failed to act despite warnings.

“The truth must come out. A soldier works for honour and nothing else in life,” Brigadier Surinder Singh said at his residence here today, accusing the army leadership of “collective failure”.

“Even today, Point 5353, which lies adjacent to Tiger Hill and 300 metres inside the Line of Control on our side, is with Pakistan. They should be asked to get out of the post now that peace talks between Delhi and Islamabad have begun,” he said.

This is not the first time the brigadier has questioned the actions of the commanders and the political-military leadership when George Fernandes was defence minister.

But more recent disclosures of the contents of an internal study commissioned by the army’s Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO) threaten to snowball in Parliament tomorrow.

Defence minister Pranab Mukherjee has sought time to make a statement in the House with more questions than can be answered being raised after the NDA’s exit from power. BJP leaders today displayed a study by the DGMO titled “An Account of the War in Kargil” and claimed it praises the role of the Vajpayee administration and the cabinet committee on security.

The current army chief, General .C. Vij, was the DGMO in 1999. About 500 soldiers of the army were killed in Operation Vijay.

Singh, who commanded the 121 (independent) brigade in Kargil, was sacked after the top brass initiated proceedings against him, alleging that he had failed to detect intrusions by the Pakistani army and Pakistan-backed militants on a 140-km stretch parallel to National Highway 1A that links Srinagar and Leh. He has challenged the action against him and the case is pending in Delhi High Court.

Even in August 2002, a battalion of the Pakistani army was in possession of Point 5353. The height overlooks NH1A from an aerial distance of about 12 km from Drass. Subsequently, the defence ministry claimed that the height was on the LoC. The continued occupation of the height by the Pakistani forces meant that the LoC was altered.


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