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Parliamentary panel to query service chiefs, but not on April 20

Delhi,Defence/Security, Fri, 13 Apr 2012 IANS

New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) The three armed forces chiefs will be questioned on the gaps in India's military preparedness but not on April 20 as has been reported in the media, the parliamentary standing committee on defence said Friday.


'We have not invited the three service chiefs on April is media speculation...but we may seek their valuable views on the issue in the future,' committee chairman Satpal Maharaj of the ruling Congress told IANS.



Sources said the panel wants to invite all the three chiefs on a single day and not separately. That meeting would happen on a date on which the three service chiefs are available, the sources added.



Taking serious note of the gaps in defence preparedness, the parliamentary panel had April 9, decided to summon the three chiefs to clarify the actual state of their readiness in case of a war but no date was decided.



The decision was taken after panel members, cutting across party lines, wanted to known the present state of affairs as far as India's defence preparedness is concerned.



The need to seek the views of the service chiefs was felt by the panel after a 'top secret' March 12 letter from Army chief Gen. V.K. Singh on deficiencies in the equipment of key fighting units such as infantry, artillery and armoured corps was leaked to the media.



The parliamentary panel had taken serious note of the gaps in the armed forces' weapon systems and sought an explanation from army vice chief Lt. Gen. S.K. Singh April 9.



Earlier the same day, Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma had told the panel that the media reports of two key army units moving towards the national capital without prior notice raising an alarm among the top brass of the nation's security was a wrong inference of a routine training drill.



According to sources, Sharma had told the panel that the army had not violated any standard operating procedure and that there was no need for any prior notice to the government for such an exercise to be carried out.



Sharma was asked to clarify a report in the Indian Express in the first week of April that claimed two key army units - from an armoured division in Hisar and a para brigade in Agra - had moved towards Delhi, 'spooking' Raisina Hill, the seat of the Indian government.


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