New Delhi, June 1 (IANS) There would be no cover-ups and the 'secular, apolitical' character of the force would be maintained, Indian Army chief Gen. Bikram Singh asserted Friday, a day after he assumed command. He also vowed to 'leave the past behind'.
'Nothing will be brushed under the carpet, let me assure you this,' he said, adding that whatever needed to be investigated wou;d be taken 'to its logical conclusion.' The army chief was speaking to reporters after inspecting a guard of honour on the lawns of South Block here on his first day in office.
'All these cases will be dealt with as per the rule book,' Bikram Singh, who took over from Gen. V.K. Singh Thursday, said while replying to questions over various allegations and issues relating to discipline facing the force.
He was, till Thursday, Kolkata-based Eastern Army Commander, under whose jurisdiction the Dimapur-based 3 Corps functions.
The 3 Corps, headed by Lt. Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag, had come under adverse notice recently over a botched up operation by its intelligence unit that allegedly committed a theft outside its territorial jurisdiction, picked up three civilians without authority and killed them in a fake encounter.
When it was pointed out that Gen. V.K. Singh's had remarked that the 3 Corps events had not been investigated, Bikram Singh said he would not comment on his 'worthy' predecessor.
Gen. V.K. Singh too, on his first day of retired life Friday, said Bikram Singh had the army's interest at heart, which he was sure would be pursued for the force's betterment.
'He (Bikram Singh) has taken over the army. He has got the interest of the army in his heart and I am quite sure he will pursue that interest for the betterment of the army,' the former chief said.
Bikram Singh, who is the 27th Indian Army chief and the 25th officer to hold the coveted position, said his key result area would be to maintain the army as a 'secular, apolitical' force.
'We will put our best foot forward. We will continue to remain a secular force, we will continue to remain an apolitical force and let us continue to do our job as it is supposed to be done,' he said, when asked what efforts would be taken to amend the strained civilian-military relations over the past 10 months.
'My outlook is to leave the past behind. Look through the windscreen and not through the rear view mirror when you take the army forward,' he said on the bitterness within the army and in relations with the civilian leadership in the last 10 months of Gen. V.K. Singh tenure.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony too had asked the same from his ministry officials and the army officers on Thursday, when Bikram Singh called on him after taking over as chief.
'The vehicle is driven by looking through the windscreen and not through the rear view mirror when you take the army forward. My outlook is to leave the past behind,' the army chief said.
Only the second Sikh to take over as India's army chief, Bikram Singh had to overcome several hurdles, including a legal battle that sought to deny him the opportunity to head the world's second largest standing army that even claimed there was a conspiracy on religious lines in the army's succession plans.
The Supreme Court had to throw out the plea, resulting in the ppetitioners comprosing ex-servicemen to go in for a review petition.
There was also an effort by some members of parliament belonging to a particular community to take a memorandum in support of the former chief, Gen. V.K. Singh, but had to be snubbed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Bikram Singh also said the 1.13 million army and its commanders work towards improving the organisation's internal health and that effort would continue.
'The Indian Army shall continue to carry out its tasks, fulfill its constitutional obligations, and perform its role as per the desired norms. I will make sure that it remains one of the most accountable, most responsive, most disciplined, and most worthy element of national power,' he added.
Responding to a query on the 'hollowness' in the army's key fighting units, Bikram Singh said it would be his endeavour to ensure the army is operationally 'ready and worthy' and 'fulfills its role in the correct manner'.