Army begins inquiry into Arunachal infantry unit ‘unrest’

The Army has ordered a Court of Inquiry to investigate the reasons behind the unrest in an infantry battalion of the Army in the North East last month.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh | Updated: June 19, 2016 5:51 am
Armymen take cover during an encounter at Kunchpura village near Tangmarg, 35 km north of Srinagar, Friday. (Shuaib Masoodi) Highly placed sources inform that the inquiry is headed by an officer of the rank of Brigadier and comprises of two Colonels who are commanding units in the same area (Express photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

THE ARMY has ordered a Court of Inquiry (CoI) to investigate the reasons behind the ‘unrest’ in an infantry battalion of the Army in the North East last month.

Sources said the inquiry panel was headed by a Brigadier rank officer and included two Colonels who are commanding units in the same area. These officers – Brig S K Chawla, Commander 2 Mountain Artillery Brigade, Col P K Singh, CO 502 ASC Battalion and Col Lakshman Singh, CO 11 Grenadiers – are investigating the incidents pertaining to May 11 when a confrontation took place between some jawans of 8 Jammu and Kashmir Rifles (8 JAK RIF) and officers of the unit at a location in Arunachal Pradesh.

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The sources said that Army Rule 180, which pertains to military reputation of a person, has been invoked for several jawans and officers of the unit who are to be examined by the inquiry, which is taking place at Headquarters of 2 Mountain Division in Dinjan.

Among the officers who are to be examined are the then officiating Commanding Officer of the battalion, the Regimental Medical Officer and several other officers. The actual commanding officer of the unit was away on leave when the alleged fracas took place and he was urgently recalled to take over command.

The Army had termed the unrest in the unit as an “emotional response” by a few jawans after a jawan died of a heart attack following a route march. The jawan had earlier complained of some unease but had been medically examined and found fit.

The sources said the genesis of the indiscipline shown by some jawans – who raised slogans besides allegedly manhandling officers – lay in the events of preceding days when some jawans had been caught in an out of bounds area. The inquiry is expected to look into the circumstances leading up to the fateful day in detail in order to find out if there was any laxity on the part of anyone.

As a large number of witnesses are to be examined by the CoI, its completion is expected to take time.

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  1. R
    Jun 20, 2016 at 5:24 am
    Army has to pay attention to the style of command in units. During the past, the traditions of unquestioned obedience was prevalent, especially in Infantry. System of personnel administration in the Infantry is different from other arms and services, for good and time tested reasons. Same officers and men serve in the unit ever since joining Army. This promotes camaraderie and sub unit and unit cohesion in battle. This is also the reason why extra attention should be paid to the officer-men relationship. There is certainly a watering down in this aspect across the Army in general. Result of this watering down are the incidences of such unrest of late. Therefore, this aspect needs urgent attention at the highest level. To my mind, it appears that two or three measures can be implemented to improve the officer-men relations. One- Officers be made to spend more time with men both during on duty and off duty hours. This aspect needs strict implementation. Officers in direct command of troops should be given the least commitments by way of commitments like Courts of Inquiry/Boards of Officers and other commitments which take them away from the troops. Two- Company commanders/company officers must have personal interview of each of the man under his command at least once in a month. This MUST be formalised and overseen by the Commanding Officer. Men should be encouraged to bring out their personal problems to their officers during this interview. Problems needing attention should be recorded, action taken, followed up,as required. Three - Team games must be made compulsory and officers MUST take part in these games with out fail. None of these are new. These have been in vogue in the Army, but have declined over a period of time, to the extent that there is hardly any informal interaction between officers and men now. Will the COAS, himself an infantry officer, pay particular attention to this aspect.