Updated: August 15, 2021 9:20:01 pm
A Colonel against whom administrative action has been taken for alleged failures which led to a clash between Gentleman Cadets (GCs) of Tajikistan and India at IMA, Dehradun in March this year has moved the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) alleging that the Army authorities ignored the festering “radical religious fanaticism” among the foreign cadets which led to the breakdown of morale and discipline in the academy.
Colonel SK Singh, who was the Battalion Commander of Cariappa Battalion in Indian Military Academy when the clash took place, has filed a petition with the AFT’s Principal Bench in New Delhi alleging that his career has been blemished by making him a scapegoat for the clash, which took place because the Army authorities failed to take heed of the warning signs.
Col Singh was nominated to attend the prestigious Higher Command course in Japan beginning next month, which he will not be eligible to do now because he has been placed under Discipline and Vigilance Ban following a ‘Censure’ served on him by the GOC-in-C Central Command, Lt Gen Yogendra Dimri in July.
The Tajik cadets had attacked their Indian counterparts in IMA on March 3 after festering tension between them for the past several days. The attack took place despite the fact that after an altercation on March 2, the chain of command at the IMA was seized of the gravity of the situation and the Commandant of the academy, Lt Gen Harinder Singh had even addressed the foreign cadets.
Col Singh has brought out in his petition, filed by Advocate Colonel Amit Kumar (retd), that out of the 21 foreign cadets who took part in the attack, only three were from his battalion and that while he had managed to pacify and discipline them on March 2, they got agitated after the address by the Commandant of the academy.
In the documents attached with the petition, it has been brought out that the Army Training Command (ARTRAC) had been informed of the conduct of one particular Tajik cadet who had been instigating his fellow countrymen on religious grounds. However, despite the recommendation of the academy to withdraw this cadet from training because of his bad influence, higher headquarters decided to retain him in the academy.
In the documents attached with his petition, Col Singh has cited the statement of Lt Col Raman Gakhar, Adjutant of the IMA since September 2019, who has given a testimony in the Court of Inquiry after the clash that a Tajik cadet had been creating disciplinary problems in the past including “arguing with instructors and creating doubts”.
The officer has stated in the inquiry that on a midterm hike to Mussoorie in December 2020-January 2021, this particular Tajik cadet demanded that the bus be stooped at a particular time for the cadets to offer their prayers. He added that despite being told by the officer in-charge that the demand was not in order, the cadet insisted and instigated other cadets for stopping the bus. Due to their repeated demands the bus was stopped in the middle of a forest for them to offer prayers.
On another instance the same Tajik cadet demanded that the bus be stopped near the heavily populated area close to the clock tower in Dehradun for offering prayers but this time the demand was refused.
“All the above incidents clearly indicate religious radicalization. The matter was reported to the Headquarters, Army Training Command and also to defence Attache, Tajikistan and preparations were made to repatriate the foreign gentleman cadet. However, subsequently based on directions from higher headquarters, the foreign gentleman cadet was retained,” the petition adds.
The petitioner has also alleged that the Army authorities have ignored the statements made by Indian cadets and officers about the use of iron rods and sticks by Tajik cadets during the attack which left two Indian cadets in intensive care unit of the hospital. He has also alleged that a fellow Battalion Commander, from whose Battalion too cadets had been involved in the clash, was made part of the Court of Inquiry into the incident and this fact vitiated the inquiry due to bias.
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