The Indian Army had in 1987 ordered three crack para-commando battalions to move to Delhi to overthrow the Congress government led by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, retired Lieutenant General PN Hoon has claimed.

The operation was planned by the then army chief General Krishnaswami Sundarji and his deputy Lieutenant General SF Rodrigues, Gen Hoon said, according to The Times of India.

Sometime in May-June 1987, the army headquarters had sent a letter to the command headquarters asking to prepare three battalions - first-para Commando of the Western Command, ninth and 10th Para Commando of the Northern and Southern Commands, for the coup, Hoon says in his book 'The Untold Truth'.

Hoon, who was then chief of Western Command, informed Rajiv Gandhi's principal secretary Gopi Arora about the letter. "I also explained to them how dangerous this move could be, not only for the country, but also for our political system," the 86-year-old retired general said.

Hoon further claims that the army was plotting the coup on the orders of some senior politicians who were not in good terms with Rajiv Gandhi. Former President Gyani Zail Singh had in 1987 accused Rajiv Gandhi of corruption and said that he was unperturbed by the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

Zail Singh reportedly made the remarks at Hoon's farewell ceremony that was organised in Chandigarh by then Punjab governor Siddharth Shankar Ray.

The three battalions were to be headed by the then vice army chief Rodrigues. However, Zail Singh did not take the plan further fearing that India will go into the hands of military if the coup happened, Gen Hoon said.

Hoon's claim of army's attempt to depose government has, however, been refuted by 94-year-old war veteran Air Marshal Randhir Singh, who said, "In India, a coup by the armed forces is not possible because of the kind of legacy training they have inherited."

Another veteran, Colonel KS Pathak, said that there was a military mobilisation in 1987, but not to destabilise the government. "Mobilisation could have been for the State, not to destabilise the democratically elected government," he said.