The order for dismissal of a senior officer who was in charge of the sensitive naval war room on charges of moral turpitude last week have raised hackles in the Defence Ministry with officials suspecting a security breach. Captain Manoj Rawat, who was heading the Naval Operations Directorate, has been recommended for dismissal after a Board of Inquiry found charges of moral turpitude to be correct on the basis of the complaint of his lover who had sent across a complaint last year.
Captain Rawat, who was a high rising officer of the Navy before the complaint was received against him last year, had been handpicked to head the operations directorate and is believed to be close to Navy Chief Admiral D K Joshi. While the officer faced charges only on moral issues at the formal board of inquiry, it is learnt that the woman — who was a college friend of the officer — had sent a detailed complaint to the Navy last year with several documents, besides proof of their affair in the form of photographs and videos.
A detailed questionnaire on the matter that was sent to Naval HQ and spokesperson Captain P V S Satish last week by The Indian Express was not answered with the Navy saying that it had ‘no comments’ to offer on the issue. Sources in the Defence Ministry said they suspect it to be a case of more than just a thwarted love affair and there is a serious concern on the security implications of the matter, given the sensitive post that the officer had been holding.
Rawat had been immediately removed from his office last year after the woman sent in a complaint alleging that he had a love affair but refused to marry him. The officer is already married and has two children. Sources said that in the complaint, the lady has sent in several documents that she had got while the affair had been on.
Though senior officers in the Navy say that the documents pertained to study material and research papers on naval operations and were not secret in nature, this argument is not being bought by the Defence Ministry that is concerned about the affair having security implications, especially as the Navy War Room had in the past been breached in 2006 with arms dealers getting access to several top secret documents.
Sources said the ministry is going through the matter and is likely to ask for a detailed report on it from the Navy Headquarters that till now has maintained that it is merely a case of moral turpitude. However, an opinion in the ministry is that the selection of officers for such sensitive postings as the naval operations room are not being conducted with sufficient thoroughness.
While there have been several cases of moral indiscipline reported in the Navy in the past few years, the most serious in recent years was that of Commodore Sukhjinder Singh who was indicted in 2010 for having an affair with a Russian woman. The officer at that time was heading the Indian team that was overseeing the refit of the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier in Russia.