It is a pity Indian Express ran with the potential coup détat story that to journalists may have seemed fleshy but that any professional militaryman or domain expert would have warned them was hollow. (It is always advisable, in the circumstances, to have some stalwart armymen respond to such stories before putting it in print.) The trouble is Shekhar Gupta has always fancied himself as someone knowledgeable on, and informed about, military matters, and it was perhaps too juicy a story for him as editor-in-chief to pass up by way of an albeit shared byline. In retrospect, he might wish he had left Ritu Sarin, who has over the years cultivated good sources in the intelligence agencies, to monopolize the (dis)credit. In military terms, the story was so much nonsense, and I said so and explained why to several highly-placed political persons from the opposition who called this morning to find out how much credibility was packed in this story. If a coup could be prosecuted so easily — with just two army units — in a vastly divided military system of command and control, there might have been many coups or at least coup attempts by now.
Having said that, however, there is no gainsaying the fact that the plausible sounding outlines of the report were likely onpassed to Sarin by her Intel contacts who, in turn, may have been prompted by some civil servants (with a nod and wink from a minister) to see whether it flies and even more if the radioactive dust settles on the COAS, General VK Singh. It hasn’t, and the mud is now stuck on Shekhar Gupta’s face and, perhaps, has considerably soiled his reputation.