A statutory complaint filed with the Defence Ministry by a serving Colonel of the Special Forces over “lukewarm ACRs (Annual Confidential Reports)” which would deny him future promotions has brought attention back to the Jorhat dacoity case, involving three previous Army chiefs. In his complaint filed in March, Colonel S S Shekhawat of 21 Para (SF) refers to the incident of December 21, 2011, in Jorhat, where his unit was located. At the time, the 3 Corps Intelligence and Surveillance Unit claimed to have collected certain items from the house of local businessman Surjit Gogoi, alleging he had ULFA links. Police had later termed the operation a dacoity.
Colonel Shekhawat, who claims to be the most decorated serving officer in the three services — with a Kirti Chakra, Shaurya Chakra, Sena Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal — has alleged that former Army chief General Dalbir Singh, who was then Corps Commander of 3 Corps, victimised him. In his complaint, accessed by The Indian Express, the Colonel says General Dalbir Singh did so as he had informed the Army officially about the incident and was perceived to be on the side of General V K Singh, the then Army Chief. Subsequently, the Army Chief had put General Dalbir Singh under a Discipline and Vigilance Ban, marring his chances of further promotion. The ban was lifted by General Bikram Singh, who succeeded General V K Singh as the Army Chief.
General Dalbir Singh subsequently became the Eastern Army Commander and later the Army Chief, retiring in December last year. Colonel Shekhawat claims that while his ACRs prior to the December 2011 incident were outstanding, he was given “lukewarm ACRs” afterwards. This is bound to deny him his “next rank”, argues Colonel Shekhawat. He has asked the ministry to set aside the ACRs earned by him between September 2012 and September 2015. Sources in the Army said that as the officer has not been denied any promotion so far, while having attended the Higher Air Command course during that period, the complaint prima facie seems untenable.
Sources also questioned his claim of being the most decorated serving officer, noting that most of his awards were for scaling Mount Everest, which he has climbed thrice. One of the serving senior officers involved in the chain of events is Lt General Abhay Krishna, the current South Western Army Commander, who was then a Brigadier. Colonel Shekhawat’s complaint also alleges that Lt General Krishna acted at the behest of General Dalbir Singh in victimising him. Lt General Krishna is tipped to take over as the Eastern Army Commander after Lt General Pravin Bakshi, who was overlooked for the post of Army chief despite being the senior-most Army commander, retires at the end of the month.