M A I N   N E W S

Army has ignored fake killings in the past
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 8
The Army may have made attempts to salvage its badly tarnished image by taking disciplinary action against Major Surinder Singh, who had the courage to take on his seniors for the fake killings ordered by them, but the force really does not take seriously such excesses made by its officers in most insurgency-affected areas.

The double standards employed by the Army are evident in view of the fact that in the past six to seven months there have been blatant killings of civilians in Jammu and Kashmir.

The only action that has been initiated by the Army Headquarters against its officers is the transfer of a Rashtriya Rifles Commanding Officer.

But the Siachen incident has clearly put under scanner the Army’s process for selection of its officers for gallantry awards and units for citations.

Although the Ministry of Defence (MoD) yesterday categorically stated that Indian Army’s operations were professionally conducted and systematically monitored at various levels of the command and that the system of awards and citations was foolproof, various incidents and voices at various levels point to the contrary.

Senior retired Army officers point out that incidents like the one that happened in Siachen, where an officer faked enemy killings in a bid to garner gallantry award, are not uncommon in the force. But the only difference this time, they say, is that the junior officer chose to report the orders of his Commanding Officer after a dispute.

As a result, while the Army authorities have chosen to take legal action against Major Surinder Singh, his Commanding Officer, Colonel K.D. Singh, who allegedly asked the officer to use his “imagination and initiative,” has been chosen for administrative action.

He, along with Major Rohit Lama, have been blamed for administrative lapses. The Commanding Officer has denied making any such statement to his junior officer.

However, senior officers point out that everyone posted in the trouble-torn state of Jammu and Kashmir wants to return with a gallantry award and the unit with a citation. And for that they even fake enemy killings or kill the innocent in the name of terrorists.

Even in the Siachen incident, the Major would have gone scotfree and ended up possibly with a gallantry award had he not chosen to report about his senior officer.

There have been numerous reports from intelligence agencies pointing to the excesses by the Army which could actually hamper the peace process. Even Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed has gone on record telling the Army to improve its human rights record.

The killing of five civilians in Bandipore earlier this year was one such incident. The Army authorities, despite having the proof of the excesses carried out by its soldiers, chose to turn a blind eye to the blatant killing of the civilians.

The civilians protesting against the killings alleged that Rashtriya Rifles troops had used a large number of civilians as human shields while carrying out an operation against militants in a locality in Bandipore. Out of those allegedly used as human shields, five were killed leading to massive protests and strike.

A recent report by the Ministry of Home Affairs had pointed out that the Army’s enthusiasm in hunting down militants in the Kashmir valley had led the dialogue between Hurriyat leaders and the Centre to the verge of a collapse.

The assessment of the Home Ministry and intelligence agencies pointed out that the Army had little credible human intelligence in the valley. As a result, it committed “unpardonable mistakes in these crucial times.”

A few days after the Bandipore incident the police dug up the body of a local, who the Army killed claiming he was a Pakistani terrorist. The army later admitted that the man was a local, but a militant.

Even though the Army claims that it is going after the militants and protests are a result of the local support that a particular group may be enjoying, it still does not explain why ordinary villagers pour into the streets day after day.

HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | National Capital |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |