New Delhi, April 30 (IANS) Less than a week after clarifying that the troops movement reported on the night of Jan 16/17 was ‘purely for training purposes’, Defence Minister A.K. Antony again told parliament Monday that the mobilisation was for ‘routine training exercises’ and hence ‘no action was taken to fix responsibility’.
Antony had only last Thursday made it clear in the Rajya Sabha that the movements of army units on the night of Jan 16/17 was ‘purely for training purposes’ and aimed at refining drills and ensuring operational preparedness during adverse weather conditions.
On Monday, he found himself replying to questions from MPs in the Lok Sabha on the same subject.
However, this time Antony told them: ‘The movements were routine training exercises. Hence no action was taken to fix responsibility.’
The defence minister also noted that the Indian Army is a professional organisation and maintains a high degree of preparedness against internal and external threats.
‘Training is the bedrock of maintaining this operational preparedness. Mobilisation forms an important facet of training and is considered a critical performance parameter. These are carried out in a routine manner by various formations/units and do not require any formal notification,’ he told the lower house, replying to questions.
Antony also said that exercises of large formations, that is at the corps or full division levels, are notified to the army headquarters by the concerned formations.
‘Exercises close to the borders are notified to the concerned agencies/neighbouring countries including Pakistan as per existing arrangement,’ he added.
A leading Delhi newspaper, in a page one report earlier this month, had claimed that centre was alarmed by the movement of units from the 50 Independent Para Brigade and 33 Armoured Division towards the national capital, leading to Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma being called back from a visit to Malaysia.
Sharma and army vice chief Lt. Gen. S.K. Singh had previously clarified on the issue when they appeared before parliament’s standing committee on defence.
Antony had last Thursday told Rajya Sabha that there were no intelligence reports to the defence ministry on the troop movements.
However, Antony did admit that the two units did move from their respective bases.