Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Was there a military coup attempt in India on January 16-17?

Some days ago the Indian Express reported of the following anomalous military maneuvers around Delhi, never notified to the Ministry of Defense, as would be normative. These events happened however almost three months ago, on January 16-17th but their relevance was not discussed publicly until now:

What Happened
  • On Jan 16, an entire unit of mechanised infantry based in Hisar with its fighting vehicles began moving towards Delhi. It parked near Najafgarh
  • Sizeable section of the Agra-based 50 Para Brigade also moved to near Palam
  • Both were stopped and ordered to be moved back
What Army says
  • These were exercises to check effectiveness in fog
  • Troops moved towards Delhi, not outward, westward since Pakistan hadn’t been notified
  • The Paras were being moved to check out possibility of their “marrying” with the C-130s in Hindon
Unanswered questions
  • Why wasn’t Ministry of Defence notified?
  • Did the units have to come so far towards Delhi?
  • Why was the IAF not informed? 

I made a map of the events (based on Wikimedia's):

The maneuvers were not authorized (pretext: routine training). 

The likelihood of an actual coup is however dismissed by many: India is too big and any such attempt not having nearly everyone on board would surely just lead to a civil war. However a show of force is more than likely. 

But what could be the cause? Oddly enough a silly administrative dispute on the exact age of General V.K. Singh, commander of the Eastern Army (Kolkatta), had degenerated apparently in a serious row on the readiness of the Indian military to face a potential war (v. ATOL). 

In general Indian media dismiss the coup theory but any neutral observer can't but raise an eyebrow... or both. You normally don't do large scale military maneuvers in the outskirts of the capital without notifying the government, do you? 

I'd dare say one thing however: any such military interference in politics, can only result, the same as in Mali, in severe dislodgement of the Indian state, with separatist territories rushing to segregate and the Maoist guerrilla only being fortified as result.

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