'Unit set up by V K Singh used secret funds to try, topple J&K govt, block Bikram Singh'
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Misusing secret service funds to destabilise the Omar Abdullah government in Jammu and Kashmir, to pay off an NGO to try change the line of succession in the Army top brass, to buy off-air interception equipment, to conduct "unauthorised" covert operations — a string of alleged irregularities by the Technical Services Division (TSD), a controversial Military Intelligence (MI) unit set up by former Army Chief General V K Singh in May 2010, should come under the scanner of an external agency like the CBI.
This is a key recommendation of a secret Board of Officers inquiry report into the functioning of the TSD. The inquiry was led by Lieutenant General Vinod Bhatia, DG, Military Operations.
The report, which includes original Army documents and notings, was submitted to the then Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma around March this year. It has rattled the security establishment and prompted a series of measures to curtail MI's powers, tighten monitoring of its covert operations and its use of secret service (SS) funds.
Government and Army sources have confirmed to The Indian Express that a summary of the report has been put up by the Ministry of Defence to Minister A K Antony who is understood to have instructed that its contents be brought to the notice of the Prime Minister's Office. The report has been examined, sources said, at the "highest levels" in the MoD and the PMO.
National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon is known to have chaired more than one high-level meeting to discuss the report and follow-up action.
Sources said the report contains financial details of withdrawals of SS funds from accounts of the State Bank of India that match payments claimed by TSD officials — in their statements to the Board — for specific operations. It, however, cautions that given the covert nature of these operations, there is an element of "deniability''.
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