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Officers-jawans clash in Arunachal latest in series of discipline breakdown

The news about the incident in the unit started spreading through social media with detailed messages being circulated giving out unconfirmed details of the clash and the cause behind it.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh | Updated: May 16, 2016 9:26 pm
army The news about the incident in the unit started spreading through social media with detailed messages being circulated giving out unconfirmed details of the clash and the cause behind it.

The confrontation between officers and jawans of a Jammu and Kashmir Rifles (JAK RIF) battalion deployed in Arunachal Pradesh last Friday is the latest in a series of incidents where the disciplinary boundaries between officers and jawans have been breached. The news got leaked through social networking sites, even though the Army has termed it as a ‘scuffle’.

The news about the incident in the unit started spreading through social media with detailed messages being circulated giving out unconfirmed details of the clash and the cause behind it. These messages said that an officer had been left injured in the incident. The Army was quick to react to these developments taking place on various Whatsapp groups and denied that there had been any ‘mutiny’ in any unit. It explained that a jawan had died of natural causes which led to an ’emotional’ response from some jawans. The jawan had apparently died of a heart attack after a route march even though he had been medically examined before the march and found to have been fit.

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Meanwhile, a counter campaign on Whatsapp seemed to have been launched in which conflicting versions of the incident were put forward. Some of the messages conveyed that the ‘fabric of the unit’ was intact and asked recipients to ignore alarming messages which were circulating. Another message, which also got fast into circulation, made a plea that all messages regarding the incident should be avoided and even went on to say that this was a disinformation campaign which was being taken advantage of by ‘ISI moles’ and that social media was no place to discuss it.

However, in the absence of a categorical statement being put out regarding the nature of the incident, speculation about the clash or scuffle continued. Senior retired Army officers have taken a dim view of the breakdown of discipline. Speaking to The Indian Express, Maj Gen Krishan Khorana (retd), a former Sikh Regiment officer, said, “Earlier jawans were very simple people and tolerated all as long as you were 100 per cent fair with them and you kept each other on the straight and the narrow. Today with education gone up and life becoming competitive all over they are not taking nonsense from anyone”. He added that the officers shortage in infantry units was way “too much”. Shortage of officers at the level of Capt and Majors is taking a toll on the units and officers are doing multiple tasks and they also get tired and cannot manage everything.

Brig Harwant Singh (retd) said, “I will term it as a failure of command at an individual level by who so ever was in-charge”. He went on to add that maybe there was some communication gap in the unit because of which the jawans may have got emotional.

Past known incidents of indiscipline

Oct 2010: Scuffle between officers and troops in an Armoured Regiment in Tibri, near Gurdaspur

May 2012: Officers of an Artillery regiment in Ladakh attacked by jawans

Oct 2012: Jawans of an Armoured Regiment In Patiala leave regiment in protest against task given by an officer

August 2012: Jawans clash with officers in Samba after suicide of a jawan

Oct 2013: Clash in a Sikh Light Infantry battalion in Meerut leaves officers and jawans injured

Oct 2013: NCC Unit CO assaulted by Sikh Light Infantry Jawan in Batala after altercation

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  1. Amit Mitra
    May 16, 2016 at 5:04 pm
    So in short, nothing has been confirmed by the "reporters" in person and all that is being printed is hearsay. Hmmm wondering is true journalism at Indian Express is as alive as it is as Times Of Tabloid.
    1. R
      Rajesh Bhardwaj
      May 21, 2016 at 4:40 am
      Sir, it is sad to see that repeatedly there is no senior officer in forward areas where stress is greatest on officers and jawans to handle such situations. We lost our son Major Ankit Bhardwaj of 10 JAKLI in Moltuk Manipur due to similar carelessness of Army doctors. Hav Ashok Kumar of the unit who is alleged to have killed him in 2008 was reported to have tried to kill his JCO in Kapurthala about a decade before 2008 but as troops were not armed in Kapurthala a peace station he could not kill the JCO. He was taken to MI( medical inspection) room and kept there for a couple of days and then declared alright with disasterous results in 2008 when he was armed. Infect after the Kapurthala incident he should have been sent home by the doctors as mentally unstable but for reasons best known to them he was allowed to continue. Merely by giving a higher rank to young inexperienced officers and designating them as adjutant in forward officers with all senior officers missing on one pretext or other will lead to such incidents. Here the fault was of the army doctor who certified the jaw an as fit even though apparently he was unfit. I reproduce my earlier comments after 18 jawans of Dogra regiment lost their lives in ambush near Moltuk Manipur and no senior officer was present. Army should look into this.""The source said that the unit was being de-inducted from the area and the advance party, led by the second in-charge of the unit of the rank of a Lt-Colonel, had already left Manipur. The source added that most middle-level officers, called junior leaders who have to be on the field, were also out of station to attend promotion examinations while the commanding officer in the rank of a colonel was also on leave. The CO, however, rushed back to his unit after the incident happened." sir, this is a familiar story of the units in Manipur. Our young son hardly 24 years old Major Ankit Bhardwaj of 10 JAKLI was made 2 IC of the unit at Moltuk in Manipur where the present incident happened and all senior officers were absent on one pretext or other. In his case also the CO was absent as well as other senior officers on one pretext or the other. When I visited Major Ankit in Samba before the unit moved to Moltuk Manipur over 20 officers were present , but in Manipur he was alone in charge of over 1000 personnel with threat of attacks by insurgents plus stress and tension. Firing incident happened and he died on 15-7-2008. Dr of the unit who was with him stated before COI that four bullets hit him but doctors at hospital where his post Mortam was conducted said in their report that nine bullets hit him including the fatal bullet.still no narco analysis tests done nor we were informed. No worthwhile reply from any authority. Calls for a CBI enquiry. Hope NIA will investigate case of murder f Major Ankit".