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Army Chief had suspected media mischief

New Delhi: Three weeks before a controversy over a "suspicious" army movement erupted yesterday, Army Chief Gen V K Singh told a journalist that if the army conducted an exercise some people with "nefarious aims" would say that it "wanted to something else".

"Even, let us say one of our corps or divisions or brigades does exercise, somebody will say, oh! they did exercise. It was not an exercise, they wanted to do something else. Now you will make a story out of it. There are lots of people who want to make stories these days for various nefarious aims, if I can put it like that," he had told `The Week` magazine during the interview on March 13.

The Army Chief lamented that today bad news is good news for a journalist while good news is no news, a normal thing. He also said that "if somebody has got any doubt, they should come and face us. They won`t because they know they are wrong". In that interview with the magazine he had also said that Army was doing a professional job but there were people both uniformed and not in uniform, some civil servants, who had their own axis to grind. They start feeding all kinds of wrong things, he said.

"So, you tell him (journalist) something juicy, it comes on front page and nobody even looks whether there is any truth in it. It is already done. So, you have already thrown muck on somebody. There are lots of people who are doing that and I don`t know what their motives are," Gen Singh had said.

The Army Chief`s comments last month assume significance against the backdrop of a report in the Indian Express yesterday that there was an unusual movement of a Mechanised Infantry unit from Hisar in Haryana and a sizeable section of 50 Para Brigade from Agra on the night of January 16-17 towards the capital. The news report was described as "alarmist" by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh who had said that such reports should not be taken at face value while Defence Minister A K Antony had described it as "absolutely baseless".

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