Ending the suspense, Government on Saturday announced the appointment of Lt General Bikram Singh as the next Army Chief from May 31 to succeed Gen V K Singh. The 59-year-old Lt Gen Singh, the Eastern Army Commander, will head the 1.3-million strong force and have a tenure of just over two years till August 2014.
“Lt Gen Singh has been designated as the next Chief of Army Staff (COAS), in the rank of General, with effect from the afternoon of 31 May 2012,” Defence Ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said here.
“He will succeed the present COAS Gen V K Singh, who retires from the service on May 31," he added. According to the normal practice, the appointment of Chiefs of Defence Services is announced 60 days in advance but in this case, the government made the announcement 90 days in advance.
Lt Gen Bikram Singh was the seniormost among the present Army Commanders but his appointment as the Chief of Army Staff had got caught in a suspense as Gen V K Singh was fighting out his date of birth battle that would have given him tenure till April next year.
There had been questions over Gen Bikram Singh in connection with an alleged fake encounter in Kashmir but the government went ahead to appoint him as the Army Chief.
Gen V K Singh, who had two dates of birth in his official records, had dragged the government to the Supreme Court, contending that he was born on May 10, 1951 and not a year later. However, the top court refused to accept his contention, holding that he had taken promotions on the basis of May 10,1950 as his date of birth and could not “resile” on his commitment accepting that date.
Lt Gen Bikram Singh was commissioned into the Sikh Light Infantry Regiment on 31 March 1972 and has served in various key formations during his 40-year career. Among the various positions held by him, he has commanded Srinagar-based 15 Corps during militancy. He has also served as Deputy Force Commander of a multi-nation UN Peace Keeping Mission in Congo and as UN Observer in Nicaragua and El Salvador during the early 90s.
Lt Gen Bikram Singh has passed out with distinction from the Defence Services Staff College, the Army War College and the US Army War College, Pennsylvania. He is married to Surjeet Kaur and the couple have two sons.