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Monday, October 25, 2021

Stormy AGBM meeting at UT DSOI as veterans protest transfer of Rs 2 cr for Panchkula DSOI

Veterans said they felt that the project of funds transfer was being pushed because of the impending retirement of the Western Army Commander, Lt Gen R P Singh on October 31.

Written by Man Aman Singh Chhina | Chandigarh |
Updated: September 28, 2021 10:54:21 am
It is learnt that Lt Gen SS Brar (retd) and several senior members vehemently said that that DSOI 36 can need money for renovation/lease/unforeseen expenditure and the amount of fixed deposits it has may not be enough.

AT THE Annual General Body Meeting of the Defence Services Officers’ Institute (DSOI), Sector 36, Chandigarh, held Sunday, veteran officers strongly objected to the proposal that Rs 2 crore be transferred to the HQ Western Command Welfare Fund for setting up a new DSOI in Panchkula.

The proposal — made by the president of the governing body and Chief of Staff Western Command Lt Gen Manjinder Singh — for transfer of funds has been hanging fire for quite some time now. The matter came to a head at the AGBM, where bus loads of serving officers from the Western Command had been ferried and personnel of the Corps of Military Police (CMP) were deployed, much to the annoyance of the veterans who alleged harassment at their hands.

Veteran officers who are DSOI members said the rationale given by the Chief of Staff for transfer the huge sum was not palatable to them. It is learnt that Lt Gen SS Brar (retd) and several senior members vehemently said that that DSOI 36 can need money for renovation/lease/unforeseen expenditure and the amount of fixed deposits it has may not be enough. “It was suggested that members of Khetarpal Officers Institute (KOI) and those veterans residing in Panchkula can contribute Rs 10 or Rs 15,000/- each to raise this money. We at Chandigarh have paid from our pockets to raise this institution,” said a member.

Lt Gen. Brar traced the struggle for a DSOI in UT, explaining that the institute is spread over a hectare of land and initially comprised of only a gazebo with a thatched rooftop. It was pointed out that at one point of time, the UT Administration had invoked IPC Section 144 in the area and lathi-charged veterans. “It is much later that HQ Western Command realised that the veterans of Chandigarh had wanted a DSOI along the lines of the one at Dhaula Kuan, New Delhi,” said an officer.

“The low point of the discussion was reached when a senior serving officer raised the point that in case Short Service Commission officers were granted full voting rights, then tomorrow, Regimental Commission and Military Nursing Service (MNS) officers would seek membership of DSOI. It was promptly snubbed,” a member who was present at the meeting, said.

Veterans said they felt that the project of funds transfer was being pushed because of the impending retirement of the Western Army Commander, Lt Gen R P Singh on October 31. “There was no doubt that the impression was given that the decision to transfer funds will be taken whether the members object or not, and that DSOI Panchkula will be inaugurated by October 15,” a member said.

Money being transferred is on returnable basis: Western Command

Responding to a query by The Indian Express on developments at DSOI Sector 36, the HQs Western Command said the Rs 2 crore sought to be transferred is on a returnable basis.

“AGBM of DSOI, Chandigarh, which is a mandatory requirement for the institute functioning was conducted on September 26 and was attended by approximately 250 plus officers, both serving and veteran, for which necessary clearance was obtained from SDM (South) Chandigarh Administration. One of the agendas was to transfer Rs 2 crore to HQ Western Command Welfare Fund on returnable basis. President Governing Body of DSOI Chandigarh, Lt Gen Manjinder Singh highlighted the need for establishing a new DSOI at Panchkula.

He apprised the members that there are a very large number of veteran officers in tricity, which is further increasing, and one DSOI is not able to meet the requirement,’ the statement said.

The statement added that there were very few dissenting voices, primarily on issues connected to the transfer as well as regarding the modalities for returning the fund. “The sense of General Body was taken and the majority overwhelmingly supported the transfer,” it added.

The statement also said the allegation of CMP misbehaviour is false and completely misplaced. “The Corps of Military Police was deployed to ensure traffic discipline and Covid protocols,” the statement said.

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