A Tribune Special
16 others, including four Brigadiers, face court martial
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 21
In addition, 16 other officers are facing disciplinary action, possibly trial by court martial, in the case, it is learnt. This includes four brigadiers, who were commanding brigades under the Bareilly-based 6 Mountain Division, nine commanding officers, staff officers and the general's aide de camp, a captain.
General Gur Iqbal, who earned the dubious sobriquet of ‘‘booze general’’, had faced six charges under Section 52 of the Army Act for misappropriating government property and four charges under Section 63 for acts prejudicial to good order and military discipline.
Significantly, the officer had pleaded guilty to the charges levied against him, which resulted in the case being disposed off early.
The trial, presided over by the Commandant, Infantry School, Lt-Gen Satyavir Yadav, had started at Mhow last week, and concluded today. The verdict of the court is subject to confirmation by Chief of the Army Staff.
The scam came to light about nine months ago, when General Gur Iqbal was serving as General Officer Commanding of 6 Mountain Division in Bareilly. The lid on the scam was blown when military intelligence, in collaboration with the local police, had intercepted and impounded two trucks ferrying CSD liquor from Bareilly to Sangrur in Punjab in October. The trucks were impounded near Dehra Dun. Sangrur is stated to be the general's home town.
The liquor siphoned from canteens, the cost of which is much lower than that in the civilian market, used to be sold in the open market later.
The Army had thereafter removed General Gur Iqbal from command and ordered a court of inquiry (COI) to ascertain facts of the case and fix responsibility. The COI had held him prima facie blameworthy. Army Headquarters had taken a serious view of the matter and had, according to sources, dealt with the matter with an ‘‘iron hand’’.
Other officers are facing disciplinary action because liquor was also lifted from CSD canteens located in their units or formations. The role of staff officers also came in for scrutiny during the investigations and administrative lapses on their part were detected.
This is for the first time that an officer of the rank of major-general has faced disciplinary action for siphoning and selling of military liquor. About two years ago, a brigadier based in Delhi was caught and court-martialed for alleged misappropriation of canteen liquor.