Suhag’s appointment may be apt given that India is looking to build a coast guard facility in Seychelles’ Assomption island in a bid to increase its presence in the Indian Ocean region
His appointment could bring him face to face with former army chief V.K. Singh, minister of state for external affairs, whom Suhag once accused of trying to stall his promotion
NEW DELHI :
The government on Thursday announced the appointment of former army chief Dalbir Singh Suhag as India’s next high commissioner to Seychelles. The appointment could bring him face to face with former army chief V.K. Singh, presently minister of state for external affairs but whom Suhag had once accused of trying to stall his promotion when Singh was army chief.
“General (Retd.) Dalbir Singh Suhag has been appointed as the next High Commissioner of India to the Republic of Seychelles," a statement from the Indian foreign ministry said. “He is expected to take up the assignment shortly," it added.
Incidentally, Suhag was the chief of army staff when India conducted surgical raids across the Line of Control into Pakistan-administered Kashmir in 2016 after the terrorist attack on an Indian army camp in Uri.
Appointments of former defence personnel as envoys to countries is not unheard of – the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had named former Indian Navy chief Nirmal Kumar Verma as high commissioner to Canada, Verma’s predecessor Sureesh Mehta as high commissioner to New Zealand and former air chief N.A.K. Browne as ambassador to Norway.
Suhag’s appointment therefore is not unusual. And it may be apt given that India is looking to build a coast guard facility in Seychelles’ Assomption island in a bid to increase its presence in the Indian Ocean region given the increasing footprint of the China in the region. The pact to build the facility was signed in 2015 during Modi’s visit to Seychelles—one of the three stops during a tour of Indian Ocean region countries. But the project has run into rough weather with the Seychelles parliament blocking the Indian move.
Suhag’s appointment could bring him face to face with Singh, who is the minister in-charge of India’s ties with East and South Africa. A person familiar with the developments, however, said that Seychelles being situated in the Indian Ocean region is the direct charge of foreign minister Sushma Swaraj. According to a division of duties, Swaraj is in-charge of India’s immediate neighbourhood and the Indian Ocean region.
Singh was army chief between 2010-12 when he apparently issued a showcause notice to Suhag who was heading the Dimapur-based 3 Corps, asking him to inquire into allegations of a fake encounter and dacoity by his colleagues, news reports say. According to procedure, when a notice is issued to a serving officer, a ban is placed on his promotion, till the allegations have been cleared up satisfactorily. But Singh had already lost his case in the Supreme Court for an extension of his service and he was days away from his retirement when he served the notice to Suhag. The strictures on Suhag were lifted by Singh’s successor after he left office.