Updated: August 23, 2017 10:06:30 am
The Army has ordered two Courts of Inquiries to investigate the circumstances under which two Gentleman Cadets (GCs) of Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun, died while taking part in a ‘runback’ on Aug 18. According to senior Army officials, two Brigadiers have been appointed to conduct the two separate inquiries and they will be assisted by two more officers in each inquiry as members. These Courts of Inquiries will look into the entire chain of events surrounding the events which lead to the death of the two cadets and hospitalisation of five more due to dehydration.
As per the official information released by the Army-GC Deepak Sharma and GC Nabin Kumar Chhetri- were taking part in Exercise Pehla Kadam which is a training camp for the cadets of IMA. It was while they were taking part in a run during the exercise, that seven cadets fell unwell were were rushed to the hospital but two of them, Sharma and Chhetri succumbed to exhaustion and dehydration.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Maj Gen Krishen Khorana, a former instructor at the IMA said that the fact that seven cadets fell unwell and two of them died due to dehydration shows that it was something “unusual”. “There needs to be a proper investigation on what kind of refreshments were available to these cadets which includes what food they had eaten or what kind of packed food was given to them. These are young cadets and a ten km run should not be a cause of death under normal circumstances apart from a pre-existing medical reason,” he said.
The IMA Dehradun has a direct intake of cadets who join the academy after graduation as well as those who have joined it after completing a three year course in the National Defence Academy (NDA), Dehradun. While the training period for direct entry cadets is for 18 months, the ex-NDA cadets pass out after 12 months of training to be commissioned as officers in the Army. GC Deepak Sharma had joined IMA directly after graduation while Chhetri’s status has not been revealed yet.
A former Commandant of the IMA, Lt Gen TS Shergill (retd) said that a ten km run should not pose any problem for cadets in the IMA and called it a routine exercise. “All of us have been doing this run while in academy and there may have been some medical issues which might have led to it. I personally feel that this has nothing to do with the run per se and 10 km run is no great shakes. This is a normal kind of exercise which is carried out in the IMA as also in the NDA,” he said. Lt Gen Shergill added that he did not think that cadets should drop out like this. “Sometimes cadets cannot keep up due to exhaustion and a fellow cadet carries his rifle for him or even bodily carries another cadet, I would say that we have to look deeper into this,” he said.
Senior officers point out that fatalities due to pre-existing medical conditions do happen but these are few and far between because of the age bracket of these young cadets. Physical fitness of new cadets and their medical condition when they join the military academy has also been flagged by a retired senior Army officer. Former GOC-in-C of Northern and Central Commands, Lt Gen HS Panag (retd), said that the overall fitness of youth was going down. “There is an absence of culture of fitness in the society these days in our towns and cities and the youth are also not very sports oriented. However, the medical examination carried out at the entry level is also not very detailed and if there is a deep underlying problem it can go unnoticed,” he said.