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CO, Major indicted for raping lady officer
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
The commanding officer of an air defence regiment based in the Western Sector has been indicted by an army court of inquiry (CoI) for allegedly raping a recently commissioned lady officer posted in his own unit over a period of time, it is learnt.

The incident, which is the first of its kind to be reported in the armed forces, has sent shock-waves in the services and the Army top brass is understood to be taking the matter very seriously.

A Major from the same unit has also been held blameworthy by the CoI for allegedly molesting the said officer, sources revealed. Both officers now face a possible trial by general court martial.

According to sources, the commanding officer is facing tentative charges on a number of counts under Section 376 and 354 of the Indian Penal Code for rape and molestation, along with other charges under Sections 57 and 63 of the Army Act for falsifying official documents and acts prejudicial to good order and military discipline.

There are four tentative charges of molestation against the Major. Both officers have been attached with 96 Infantry Brigade, where recording of summary of evidence (SoE) has commenced after hearing of charge was conducted by the brigade commander.

The accused officers, on their part, have denied allegations of rape, use of force or molestation. The victim, meanwhile, has been moved out from the unit and attached to a different establishment.

The SoE in the case of the Major, which began today, is being recorded by Col Sanjeev Sinha, while that in the case of the commanding officer, which started four days ago at Tibri, is being recorded by Col N.K. Sharma. Both officers recording the SoE are battalion commanders.

The incident came to light after the victim made a written complaint to the General Officer Commanding of the Jalandhar-based 11 Corps. Sources said the officer had alleged that her commanding officer coerced her to have sex with him on several occasions over a period of 13 months. This happened both before and after she went to attend a course. The names of some other officers have also cropped up in the CoI.

Acting upon the complaint, the corps commander ordered a court of inquiry into the matter, which was presided over by the Chief Signal Officer, 11 Corps, Brig Lidder. Based upon the findings and recommendations of the CoI, the army ordered disciplinary action against the accused officers.

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