A controversy broke out on Tuesday (April 9) when chairperson of the National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) accused Lt Gen (retd) DS Hooda of “leaking” details of a report on “right-sizing” the Indian Army.
Lt Gen DS Hooda is the former Northern Army Commander under whose watch the 2016 surgical strikes were conducted after the Uri terror attack.
At a lecture on ‘National Security Institutions: Tackling Emerging Challenge’, organised by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), NSAB chairperson PS Raghavan said Lt Gen (retd) Hooda had contravened the terms of the agreement on the report that he was preparing for the NSAB.
“We were the people who asked Lt Gen Hooda to prepare the report. It was the NSAB. He actually contravened the terms of the agreement by going public with it. He was not supposed to do it. He gives me a report on which he writes secret and writes copy number 1, 2 and 3. Then he goes to the next Manekshaw Centre conference and says this is what he has said [in the report],” said PS Raghavan.
He responded to a query posed regarding the Task Force report that Lt Gen Hooda had prepared for the Congress. Instead of responding to this specific question, the NSAB chairperson spoke about Lt Gen Hooda “divulging” details of a classified document.
Meanwhile, Lt Gen Hooda refuted the allegations levelled by Raghavan and said he has no recollection of any conference where he revealed the details of the said report.
Challenging the NSAB chief, Lt Gen Hooda said, “We should not let accusations fly loosely. There was no seminar in Manekshaw Centre where I spoke about the report that had been submitted to the NSAB. If there is even one person who can certify that I spoke and divulged details in that seminar then I am at fault, else Raghavan should take back his words.”
Last year, Lt Gen Hooda was assigned the task to prepare a report by NSAB for “right-sizing” of the Indian Army. He submitted the report of the single-member panel to the National Security Advisory Board in late November, 2018.
While there have been many reports in the media regarding what the report entails, there isn’t any that says Lt Gen Hooda revealed details of the report.
The Narendra Modi government has been trying ways to “optimise” the size of the military forces. This is being seen as the largest reform programme of the defence forces since India gained Independence in 1947.
Some media reports have suggested that the report prepared by Lt Gen Hooda had recommended the possibility of cutting down the size of the 1.2-million strong Indian Army by creating a reserve force that can be called up during war; making the Special Forces (SF) a strategic resource; and setting up a new directorate to accelerate technology induction.
Raghavan gave no clarity on whether the recommendations were considered and accepted. He rather called it just an “additional” report.
“It was just and additional report on right-sizing of the Indian Army. There were a number of issues that then had to be taken up and discussed with a variety of people before we could give advice to the government,” he said.
The initial question posed to PS Raghavan was regarding the report Lt Gen Hooda had prepared for the Congress party. The retired officer was entrusted by the party to prepare a national security strategy document for the party, most of which was incorporated by the party in its manifesto as well.
In March this year, Lt Gen Hooda submitted a “comprehensive report” on national security to Congress president Rahul Gandhi.
“Congress president had constituted a task force which was headed by me on national security. I have prepared a national security strategy document and today submitted it to the Congress president,” General Hooda had said after submitting the report.
Thanking the retired general and his team for their efforts, Congress President Rahul Gandhi had tweeted: “Lt Gen (Retd.) DS Hooda and his team have put together a comprehensive report on India’s national security that he presented to me today. This exhaustive report will at first be discussed and debated within the Congress party.”
While Lt Gen Hooda’s integrity has been questioned by Raghavan, India Today TV is yet to get a response from the NSAB regarding the allegation levelled against him. India Today TV is also yet to get a confirmation on any conference held at the Manekshaw Centre where Lt Gen DS Hooda (Retd) spoke publicly about the details of this “secret” report.