From Christina Palmer in New Delhi
(with additional input by Anjali Sharma and Ajay Mehta)
World’s third largest army i.e the Indian Army is reported to be severely hit by low morale and unprofessionalism with an acute lack of professional motivation and it has been reported by none else but India’s own Military Intelligence , revealed the investigations carried out by The Daily Mail.
According to these investigations Brigadier Vikram Malhotra of The Psychological Operations Wing of the Indian Military Intelligence , via letter number 071/Gen/Psy/Ops-1 dated 29.10.2017, a facsimile of which is being published by The Daily Mail has confirmed the above mentioned facts , with Indian MI conducting investigations into the issue for the period of September 2012 till October 2017.
The Daily Mail investigations indicate that the de-motivation and low morale by Indian Army Personnel during the border standoff with China at Doklan during which many of the Indian Army Officers and Soldiers showed reluctance to stay put for a longer period at the forward area and around 43 sought relieve orders on different fake medical grounds, pushed the panic button at New Delhi’s military headquarters. These investigations indicate that the Director General of Military Intelligence of the Indian Army was tasked by the Army Chief via order # 902/VCAS/Gen/Ops-1 23.07.2017 to dig out reasons behind this alarming state of affairs to which the final assessment report was finalized by 29-10-2017.
The Daily Mail’s Investigations indicate that supply of substandard food to Indian army soldiers, especially those , posted or deployed in the forward areas has been a really big issue for years.
Noting that the satisfaction levels of troops about quantity, quality and taste of rations was “very low”, propelling the CAG to seek a complete overhaul of the existing system, ranging from computerization and better procurement procedures to expansion in the vendor base and blacklisting of defaulting parties.These investigations further reveal that the 1.13-million strong Indian Army, the third largest in the world, marches largely on sub-standard food and rations, well past their consume-by date while Indian Army’. Recently a Director General of Army Services Corps (ASC) Lt Gen S K Sahni, became the highest Ranking of Indian Army to be Court Martialled, over the issue. These investigations further indicate that the Indian Army was already reeling under a series of meat, egg, flour, pulses and other ration scams in recent years, with even Lt-General rank officers being indicted in the scandals. Finally, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), decided to punch several holes in the Army’s entire “supply chain management of rations”, hinting at widespread corruption and existence of cartels.
Tabled in Indian Parliament , a latest CAG report paints a dismal picture of the Army’s procurement and supply of dry rations (rice, wheat, pulses (Daal), sugar, tea, oil, tinned items) and fresh rations (vegetables, fruit, meat, milk), undertaken at an annual cost of Rs 1,440 crore.
As per CAG, the main villains of the piece were Army Service Corps (ASC) and Army Purchase Organization, all under the benign gaze of Army HQs and the Defence Ministry.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that around three hundred thousand soldiers under the Northern Command in Occupied J&K, for instance, were issued rations by Army supply depots even after the expiry of their original estimated storage life (ESL), based on “repeated extensions” given by Central Food Laboratory at Jammu.
“While instructions prohibit any extensions beyond three months of the ESL, flour, sugar, rice, tea, pulses, edible oil etc were consumed (by soldiers) even six months to 28 months after the expiry of the original ESL,” said CAG, adding that MoD and Army HQs needed to get their act together “to ensure supply of good quality rations to troops”.
The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that the existence of cartels, a “risk too serious to be ignored”, is also affecting the quantity and quality of rations. “Serious absence of competition was noticed in procurement of fresh rations…82% of procurement was based on less than three quotations, 36% based on single quotations,” .
For instance, during past few years, only one vendor purchased the tender documents for supply of meat and chicken in Delhi and the Rs 5 crore annual contract was awarded to him.
The Daily Mail’s findings further indicate that in another example of similar nature, in blatant violation of norms, several transport and tour companies were registered as vendors to supply meat, eggs, vegetables and milk, in addition to transportation. Conversely, a poultry firm was found registered for the supply of transport and vegetables.
“according to Martand Jha, a Research Fellow at Center for Russian and Central Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University . just during the current year, , several soldiers in the Indian army and paramilitary forces have come out on social media to voice their concerns regarding the harsh conditions and poor facilities they are subjected to while performing their duties. All these soldiers also complained about bad behavior by their senior officers. Several claimed that they had to do household chores for their superiors, including cooking, taking care of their children, washing clothes, and even taking their dogs outside.
This was mentioned by one of the jawans (junior soldiers) in his video. He recounted that he tried to complete a “sting operation” on his fellow soldiers, who were subjected to same kind of harassment. Instead, his peers ran away from the camera in order to protect their identity, fearing strict action against them if the matter came out in the open.
One of these soldiers, Tej Bahadur from the Border Security Force (BSF), mentioned the poor quality of food that is being served. In his video, he also noted that he feared the repercussions he might face for publicly voicing his concerns. After the video went viral on social media and was covered by the media, he was shifted to a different unit in BSF.
Bahadur’s was the first video to surface. Afterwards, three more soldiers came out with their own videos.
Another soldier, Yagya Pratap, made a video saying that when he wrote letters to the president and prime minister’s office regarding the exploitation of Indian soldiers by senior officials, his superiors retaliated. In the video, he says that the action taken against him was unjust, considering that he didn’t reveal any secret Army information. Pratap further went on to reveal that he was pressured, abused, and mentally tortured to such an extent that he thought of committing suicide at one stage.
Another soldier, Jeet Singh from Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), in his video talked about the disparities between the facilities given to soldiers of the Indian Army and CRPF. Army soldiers are given pensions and enjoy quotas for post-military jobs; soldiers from CRPF do not receive either of these benefits. Nor do the CRPF enlistees have access to the Army canteen or good medical services. The soldier said that he wanted soldiers from CRPF to be provided facilities on par with Indian Army soldiers.
Another issue raised by these videos is corruption among army officials. Another soldier, Naik Bhgat, said that out of the menu for food allotted to his unit, only 40 percent reaches them. No one knows what happens to the rest of the menu. He also revealed that jawans are not given a vehicle to drop them off when they go on leave. On the contrary, lieutenants, majors, and senior officers are not only given a car but also a luggage-handler.
The Daily Mail’s investigations further reveal that the syndrome of sex abuse has crept into the Indian Armed forces at every level. It remains a fact that the cases of sexual abuses at the lower level seldom come to the limelight while the cases of the similar nature ,involving Officers, somehow manage to make it to the media, though not every time. The investigations indicate that in most cases involving Officers of the Armed Forces, the leadership of the Services normally tries to hush up the issues but when things get too wild , action is taken ,though with a pinch of salt. The Daily Mail’s investigations also indicate that whenever any female officer from any of the three Armed Forces of India lodged any complaint of sex abuse by Senior or Fellow Officers , she actually invited acute trouble for herself as never in the history of Indian armed forces ,any such complaint by any female officer was entertained on merit and in fact in almost every such case ,every complainant female officer was instead punished and removed from the service with Squadron Leader Anjali Gupta of the IAF and Captain Poonam Kaun of the Indian Army being the top examples in this direction. The Daily Mail’s investigation indicate that Major General Lal who was Commander of powerful 3rd Infantry Division of the Indian Army, ,fell from grace soon after he ,during a yoga exercise asked his junior woman officer to assist him with his fitness regime. For acts that he committed during that yoga session, which according to the lady officer were sexual in nature , he was Court-Martialed the same year after a Court of Inquiry found him culpable of acts unbecoming of an officer .The charges from the woman officer led to bitter acrimony ,with Lal’s family ,his wife and daughter , jumping into the fray with counter-charges at a press conference held in Chandigarh ,where it was alleged that the complainant’s behavior too was not officer-like.They claimed that there were negative internal reports about her conduct in the army,prior to her making the sexual harassment allegation. General Lal’s Court Martial , though held him guilty at the offence of sexually harassing the woman officer after a year-long proceeding and ordered his dismissal from army service.
The Daily Mail’s findings indicate that in March 2011, in a rare incident when Indian Defence Minister got to reply to questions from Members of Parliament on sexual offences in the Indian Armed Forces ,he noted that between 2008 and 2010 , seven officers were punished after probes into eight cases of sexual harassment of women officers.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that during June 2003 , the wife of a Colonel of the Indian Army complained to the then Army Chief General V K Singh’s wife Bharti Singh President of Army Wives Welfare Association said that Army’s Engineer -in- Chief Lieutenant General A K Nanda had sexually misheaved with her when she was accompanying her husband on an official tour of Israel . Nanda was also there in Tel Aviv along with his wife then and the complaining woman was none other than Nanda’s technical Secretary CPS Pasricha’s wife. She had complained that Nanda has visited her hotel room when her husband was away on the pretext of gathering an official file and took advantage of her being alone to molest her.The complaint was made after the entire team of officers completed its official tour of Israel ,and later holidayed in Cyprus. A court of Inquiry that went into the allegations punished Nanda with just an administrative reprimand for violating service decorum . The Army however did not specify which decorum Nanda violated. The Court of Inquiry , though, also pulled up Pasricha for misleading it and administered reproof to him too. The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that read life story of an Indian Army Major goes like a spicy and juicy script of some love thriller Indian movie.
According to The Daily Mail’s probe , a Major from Indian Army’s AMC, who was posted at a military hospital in Dinjan cantonment in Assam’s Tinsukia district in 2007, played out his part to perfection , only his efforts went for a toss at the end of the year – long drama. The officer , to fulfill his lust for a brother’s wife , planned and executed his own fake suicide. He left his car on the banks of Brahmaputra River and a suicide note in it ,to make it appear as if he had jumped into the water to end his unhappy life. However, his body was never found despite the Indian Army getting divers to fish out the mortal remains. It also never surfaced. Around the same time, the wife of a Colonel with an Artillary Unit posted in the same area too went missing from her home in the Cantonment. Incidentally, the Major’s wife, who too was a doctor in the Indian Army Medical Corps with the rank of Captain,was on a UN mission and was posted abroad at the time he got involved with the Artillary Unit Colonel’s wife. T he Military Intelligence (MI) Unit’s antenna went up as two persons , a man and a woman, went missing from the same army establishment almost at the same time. They began picking up the thread to put the pieces of the puzzle in place. The probe by the MI led to the findings that the Major had faked his suicide to elope with the Colonel’s wife. The Major was finally traced to a city in South India and was arrested. He was Court Martialled charges of ‘desertion’ and ‘stealing’ the affection of a Brother’s Officer’s wife’ and removed from the service.
The investigations also revealed that in July 2008, Captain Poonam Kaur of the Indian Army, who was then posted with the 5682 Army Services Corps (AC) Battalion in Kalka , was dismissed from service after she dared to highlight sexual abuse by her seniors, in fact by three Senior Officers – Col. RK. Sharma , Lt.Col. Ajay Chawla and Maj. Suraj Bhan. As always, once again, a rather manipulated Court of Inquiry found no basis for her complaint.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that in a most recent incident, that took place just on the first of November, 2017, merely a week ago, yet another serving Colonel was arrested for having an affair with a subordinate’s wife.
The army has ordered a probe against the Colonel after the Military Police caught him with the Lieutenant Colonel’s wife at the latter’s home in Punjab’s Bathinda district. Both officers are from the Corps of Engineers.
The Military Police conducted a raid at the Lieutenant Colonel’s house at 3 am at his behest, indicating that he had an inkling about what was going on. The accused Colonel is the additional Chief Engineer, Bathinda zone. The Lieutenant Colonel was away to Chandigarh for a Golf tournament when the raid was conducted.
Indian newspaper, Hindustan Times reported that the Colonel and the Lieutenant Colonel’s wife were later taken to a military hospital in Bathinda for a check-up. The Colonel has been attached to another office for the duration of the inquiry.
The army is concerned about the spurt of extra-marital affairs within its ranks and is taking a serious view of those found guilty of such offences.
“The army takes a strict view of such matters and the conduct of officers has to be above board,” an officer said.
The incident comes weeks after another Lieutenant Colonel was dismissed from service for having an affair with a colleague’s daughter. The officer’s services were terminated on account of his “inappropriate conduct.”
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that the demoralization in the Indian Army with regard to mistreatment of the families and widows of martyred officers and soldiers emerged out of many incidents that took place in recent years. one of the startling incident was the Adersh Housing scheme scam. The Daily Mail’s investigations show that Indian army was hit by the mega scam a few years back when the housing scheme, established to provide accommodation to the widows of those officers and soldiers who got killed in Kargil conflict with Pakistan, under the name of Adersh Housing Society in upscale Colaba, Mumbai, originally meant to be a six-storey structure, got converted into a 31-storey luxurious building.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate that instead of allotting the apartments to the widows of Kargil martyrs, the top leadership of the Indian Army, including a former Army Chief, General Deepak Kapoor, another former Army ChieF General N.C. Vij and former Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Madhavendra Singh etc, with the criminal connivance of the management of the Adarsh Society managed to get their share of apartments; otherwise built to accommodate the widows and families of those who were killed during the Kargil War with Pakistan.
The Daily Mail’s investigations also shed more light which shows that the Society in the posh Colaba area, on its part claimed that the land where its 31-storied building stands, belongs to the Maharashtra Government and has “nothing to do with the Defence department” while the CBI negated the claim.
These investigations also elaborate that the Housing Society, built on prime Defence land, has been constructed in an alleged violation of rules. The Environment Ministry of India washed its hands of alleged irregularities in the Adarsh Society and sought to blame the Maharashtra Government for violation of coastal regulation zones.
.These investigations also establish that former Indian Army Vice Chief, Lt. Gen. Shantanu Chowdhary, former Union Minister and Shiv Sena MP, Suresh Prabhu, were among those who were allotted flats in the 31-storey building.
The Daily Mail’s investigations further indicate that in another case, Subhashini Vasanth, the widow of Colonel Vasanth Venugopal had to suffer a lot and had to run from post to pillars to get the reward that the Indian government had announced in recognition of her husband who died in the line of duty. Subhashini Vasanth not only had to deal with the sudden loss of her husband, Colonel Vasanth, who died fighting insurgents in disputed Kashmir, but had also been made to run around government offices for a piece of land that was promised to her as part of the compensation. there are many other cases of similar nature reported in Indian media.
The Daily Mail’s investigations indicate further that the other concern regarding the demoralization and lack of motivation amongst Indian troops, highlighted by Indian Military Intelligence in its secret probe is the discrimination in the Indian army on the basis of religion and caste system. these investigations indicate that in an affidavit filed in the Indian Supreme Court countering the assertion of the Army which had justified the policy for administrative convenience and operational requirements, the petitioner pleaded that such policy should be dismantled as it is also not followed by Indian Navy and Air Force.
Earlier, the Army told the Supreme Court that it does not recruit on the basis of caste, region and religion but justified grouping of people coming from a region in a regiment for administrative convenience and operational requirements.
Countering the stand taken by the Army, the petitioner, I.S. Yadav, a doctor from Rewari in Haryana, said, “The respondent (Army) has justified the recruitment in Indian Navy and Air Force which is not based on caste/region and religion basis because of the operational requirements of these forces. But in the same breath, it justifies the caste/region/religion-based recruitment giving the same excuse of operational and administrative requirements.
“At one instance they say that recruitment is open to all classes in Indian Army, but that the recruitment is open only to these classified groups and certainly not for every Indian.’’
‘’It is incorrect that every section of Indian society is represented in these classified regiments,” he further said.
He alleged that a vast majority of the youths is being unjustly discriminated on caste-cum-region-cum-religion basis and their constitutional and fundamental rights are being violated at the intake point in the Army.
“The Indian Army should be composed of all those Indian citizens who are fit and ready to undertake the responsibility of military services,” he said, adding, “There were 22 army regiments which were based on caste, region and religion.
In an affidavit filed before the apex court, the Army had earlier refuted the allegation that unlike Air Force and Navy, there is “discriminatory classification” for recruitment on caste/religion/region basis to various regiments like Maratha Regiment, Rajasthan Rifles, Dogra Regiment and Jat Regiment.
“Subject to the ineligibility imposed by the statute itself, the Act recognises that all citizens are eligible for enrolment in regular army, and no discrimination has been made on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex, descent, place of birth, residence or any of them,” the affidavit had said.
“The assessment of the petitioner with regard to single castes based regimens is incorrect since Dogra, Garwal Rifles and Madras Regiment are not defined by caste but by region.
These regiments are drawn from specific social and linguistic groups without reference to caste being the source of recruitment,” the affidavit had said.
The Army, however, admitted that certain regiments are composed and organized/grouped on reasonable classification lines but the overall process of recruitment is open to all classes.
“Certain regiments of the Army are organized on lines of classification because social, cultural and linguistic homogeneity has been observed to be a force multiplier as a battle winning factor,” the affidavit had said, adding, “The commonality of language and culture only further augments the smooth execution of operation”.
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The 68th Anniversary of the Founding of the People’s Republic of China.
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