Out To Destroy! Admiral Arun Prakash, one of the most honest and professional officer of the Indian Navy was at the helm when the media came out with the story of "Naval War Room Leakâ€™ . The leaks led to the dismissal of a few serving officers of the Indian Navy without a court martial. The Navyâ€™s argument was that since the matter was too sensitive the court martial was not "conducive in public interest". This stand of the Navy has been vindicated by the Armed Forces Tribunal in its recent verdict that rejected the petitions of two former naval officers for reinstatement and dismissed their contention that they had been discriminated against. However, the line which certain sections of the media have been taking on the issue reeks of bias against the then Chief of Naval Staff Adm Prakash and a vicious campaign to puncture his reputation built over the years through hardwork and sincerity. Purple Beret produces here a letter that Adm Arun Prakash had written to the Editor, â€˜Outlookâ€™ who for reasons best known to him refused to publish the Admiralâ€™s side of the story. All that the Admiral seeks from the media baron is an honest investigative story based on facts of the case minus the malicious insinuations. ----------------------------- Dear Editor (Outlook), I feel demeaned to have to respond to a set of allegations made by a magazine like the Outlook. Regrettably, such is the power of the media today that any hack can concoct a sensational story and repeat it ad nauseum, in order to gain fame and fortune. Even more regrettably, such is the impotence of our laws that this process of character assasination can be carried out with total impunity. By not publishing any of the clarifications, rebuttals and denials issued by me and the MoD, over the past four years you have not only violated journalistic ethics, but also the basic principles of justice and fairplay. Much of your coverage has been marked by factual inaccuracies, half-truths and complete fabrication. However, in the space that is likely to be available to me, I will offer clarifications on five specific items from the article in your (Outlook) 7th June issue, which have been repeatedly used to mislead the reading public. I categorically state that Ravi Shankaran did not step into Navy House even once while I was its occupant. The statement that he "spent considerable time at the official residence of Adml Arun Prakash" is an outright and contemptible lie which shows a lack of integrity as well as poor "homework" on your part. The Navy House has a large staff of securitymen, telephone operators, drivers, cooks and stewards who are not only on duty round the clock, but also live within the premises. Moreover, my Flag Lieutenant (ADC) and Staff Officer were continuously in and out of the house. Not even a casual visitor to Navy House ever goes unnoticed. It is, therefore, obvious that your correspondent did not bother to corroborate with any of these people. You have made tremendous capital out of two phone calls, made to or from Navy House; one in November 2004 and the other in May 2005, to Shankaran and his colleague Prashar. For the record Shankaran happens to be the son of my wifeâ€™s elder sister, but since he resigned from the Navy some years previously, I personally, have had minimal contact with him. Let me add categorically that I neither called him (on cell phone or land-line), nor ever received any call from him or his colleague in Navy House. However, he did occasionally call up my wife and daughter, to greet them on festivals and birthdays etc. It is quite possible that these two calls were to or from one of my family members. In view of the huge fuss made by your magazine on the issue of telephone calls, I wrote to the Director CBI on 24th April 2006 asking him to question Prashar (who is in custody) and Shankaran (when apprehended) about the source and content of the two calls in 2004 and 2005, so that the media could be informed. I sent a reminder to CBI on 2ndFebruary 2007, but have not received any response. Similarly, the statement about, "The phone calls from Adml Prakashâ€™s residence to Parashar and the series of calls from Shankaran to the then navy chiefâ€™s residenceâ€¦" is yet another fabrication and total lie. As I mentioned earlier there is a telephone operator on round the clock duty in Navy House, who keeps a log of all incoming/outgoing calls. Your correspondent could have easily verified this statement before trying to pass off this palpable falsehood as the truth. The three officers found guilty of violations of the Official Secrets Act, the Navy Act 1957 and the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 were found liable to be tried by a Court Martial. However, after discussions with legal experts it was decided, for good and viable reasons by the MoD, that such a trial would be impracticable. The Raksha Mantri (obviously after due consideration) in exercise of the powers vested in him vide Section 15 of the Navy Act, dismissed them from service in end-October 2005. Please note that the CNS is not empowered by the Navy Act to dismiss officers. These individuals have approached the courts of law regarding their grievances, and will get justice. I, therefore, see no rationale, whatsoever, for your magazine to continuously pass gratuitous, speculative and contempuous comments on an issue that is sub judice in the Delhi High Court. Having completed the investigation and undertaken administrative action against the three naval officers in a matter of five months, NHQ was indeed concerned that no corresponding action had been initiated against the civilians who were involved. Between end-October 2005 and January 2006, I personally met the Defence Secretary, Shri Shekhar Dutt and the Director IB, Shri ESL Narasimhan, separately on at least 4-5 occasions, and urged them to expedite action. They both informed me that the matter was no longer in the purview of NHQ, but assured me that IB enquiries were still under way, and further action in this case would be initiated shortly by the MoD. Nevertheless, I asked the Chief of Personnel to send a request in writing to the Defence Secretary to seek investigation regarding the involvement of civilians, and initiate action as deemed appropriate. Consequently, on 18th February, the MoD made a formal request to the MHA to this effect, and CBI started its investigation soon thereafter. In early May 2005, the day after I was informed by the Directors of Naval and IAF Intelligence about this case, I met the RM and briefed him about this breach of security. I then told him about the possible involvement of my wifeâ€™s nephew and conveyed to him that I would quit if this episode was likely to embarrass my Service or the MoD. The RM said, "That may not be necessary. In any case, we should wait and see what transpires." On 25th August 2005 I received information that the Indian Express had published a report regarding the breach of security in the DNO and mentioned that a relative of mine was involved. By next morning I had handed over my resignation to the RM. A week later, he told me that my resignation had not been accepted by the Government. Please read every line of this letter carefully. All the individuals referred to above are fortunately alive and available to any "investigative journalist" who may be in quest of the truth. The fact that no one from your magazine took the trouble to speak to any of them, and that you steadfastly refused to publish any of the clarifications and rebuttals offered by me over the past, shows that you were only interested in pushing a particular line, either fed to you or concocted by your staff. Here I would like to remind you that the selection of the Scorpene submarine for the Navy, and the contract negotiations for its acquisition, were completed by the Government of India over a year before I took over as CNS. I had nothing, whatsoever to do with any of this. My sole concern on taking over as Chief was the declining submarine force levels, which I articulated to the MoD. It is, now, only a matter of time before Shankaranâ€™s interrogation by the CBI reveals the full truth as well as the validity of your theories. In view of this, your repeated and baseless insinuations about me, as well as the display of my photograph in your magazine represent the lowest levels of sensational journalism. You are guilty of slander, defamation and canard, as well as clear violation of Article 10 of the Press Council Journalistic Norms of 2010, which says: "Newspapers should eschew suggestive guilt by association. They should not name or identify the family or relatives or associates of a person convicted or accused of a crime, when they are totally innocent and a reference to them is not relevant to the matter being reported. It is contrary to the norms of journalism for a paper to identify itself with and project or promote the case of any one party in the case of any controversy/dispute." As fanciful as the rest of your fairy-tale, is the thesis that a Service Chief can influence the actions of the IB and CBI. Surely you could not be so naÃ¯ve as to suggest that I could order a CBI investigation, or delay its commencement, or ask it to allow an individual to flee the country. We all know the level at which these Central agencies are tasked and controlled. Finally, Mr. Mehta there are some questions which you need to answer to your readers. I am neither a politician, nor a business tycoon or a film personality. Why, then, the single minded personal focus on me, in 17 issues of Outlook? Why the viciousness and persistence of your attacks on a uniformed person? With so much happening in India, what is behind your obsession with the Scorpene project? You will recall that in early January 2006 you sent an individual named Saikat Datta to the office of my Naval Assistant, Captain Anil Chawla to tell him: "Donâ€™t worry; we will make sure you have a new CNS by 31st March". Why this crusade to arrange a change of CNS? And what or who motivated you to send me a threatening message of this nature? http://purpleberet.com/details/onceupon_detail.aspx?id=45 PS: credit to bring the news to our notice, Ray Sir.