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    Cong acts defensive as Karra calls Army Chief’s remarks ‘politically motivated’

    Cong acts defensive as Karra calls Army Chief’s remarks ‘politically motivated’
    Tariq Hameed Karra, former PDP leader

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, February 18

    The Congress found itself on the defensive today after new entrant to the party and former PDP leader Tariq Hameed Karra called Army Chief Bipin Rawat’s remarks on the stone-throwing youth of Jammu and Kashmir “political”.“As far as the Army Chief’s statement is concerned, I feel it is a politically motivated statement. It is very unfortunate that a force like the Army, deputed to protect the nation’s sovereignty, is politicised,” said Karra, after formally joining the Congress in the presence of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who said he was happy to have someone of Karra’s stature on board in the state.Karra, elected MP from Srinagar in 2014, had resigned from the Lok Sabha and PDP in mid- September last year over the “PDP-BJP alliance’s mishandling of the Kashmir unrest”.The Congress today distanced itself from Karra’s remarks which party general secretary (Jammu and Kashmir) Ambika Soni sought to “correct”.“Don’t go into whether a comma was placed here or there. What Mr Karra meant was that the ruling party has politicised the statement of the Army Chief and the Congress condemns such politicisation. The Congress has always stood against terrorism. What he (Karra) said was the Army Chief’s statement is being given a political colour by Union minister Jitendra Singh. It’s the BJP which is politicising the Army,” Soni said when asked if the Congress ascribed to the views of Karra, a founder member of the PDP who fell out with the party after it allied with the BJP in Jammu and Kashmir.To a query on what the Congress thought of the Army Chief’s remarks that stone-throwing youth who help terrorists escape would be treated as anti-nationals, Soni said, “We have always stood for zero tolerance for terrorism. The Congress stands with the Army. They are the best suited to handle the situation.”Karra for his part slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “politicising the Army” and called him a “small man occupying a big chair”.“He (Narendra Modi) is not a prime ministerial material. He is a small man sitting in a big chair,” said Karra, who had defeated National Conference patron Farooq Abdullah in Srinagar in the 2014 parliamentary polls.Earlier today, Karra met Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi before being formally inducted into the party. Present at the event were Congress JK chief Ghulam Mir and party legislature leader Rigzin Jora.Addressing reporters, Karra said the PDP was founded in 1999 on the principles of fighting fascist forces and his conscience did not allow him to work with the PDP when it allied with those very forces. He said he resigned after the alliance “maimed the people in J&K, mishandled the unrest and jailed and blinded people.”


    General’s remarks will increase hostility: NC Separatist leaders too flay the statement

    General’s remarks will increase hostility: NC
    Protesters throw stones at security forces in Srinagar. File photo

    Tribune News Service

    Srinagar, February 16

    Mainstream political parties and separatist organisations have strongly reacted to the remarks of Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat that “tough action” would be taken against the people supporting militants and creating hurdles in operations of the security forces.Expressing disappointment over the remarks, the National Conference said such posturing would compound the situation and increase hostility in the Valley. “It is tragic that New Delhi is trying to talk to the youth of Kashmir through the defence establishment when there is a need to engage them politically,” a spokesman of the NC said.“Youth rushing towards encounter sites and incidents of stone-throwing on the forces during encounters are worrying and alarming signs of the sense of alienation and disenchantment in Kashmir,” he added.In a statement, the hardline APHC Chairman, Syed Ali Geelani, termed it as an “apparent threat to carry out a killing spree of civilians”, which had become a practice over the past seven decades. He said the Centre’s “arrogance and stale thinking” was the basic reason for continuous bloodshed and political uncertainty in the state. He said during the situations arising in encounters people “exhibit their extreme valour and without any fear even face tough and dangerous situations.” The separatist leader that instead of taking this development serious, “they (government) are beating about the same bush” and suppress people at the barrel of gun.The moderate APHC chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said the threat issued by General Rawat to the people of Kashmir “is unfortunate and reflects a tyrannical mindset towards the people of Kashmir.” He said the Army Chief “needs to ask the executive as to why is the institution of the Army being used to crush a mass political movement and why do people at the obvious risk to their lives gather?”JKLF chairman Yasin Malik said threatening the protesters was a case of “political immaturity,” which amounted to a direct threat to the people of Kashmir. Malik termed the Army Chief’s statement as an open invitation to many to take up arms. “This statement may add to the miseries of Kashmiris but it will also push many youth to the wall and drive them towards armed struggle hence promote violence in the region,” Malik added.

    Army Chief spoke in national interest: Rijiju

    • New Delhi: Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on Thursday endorsed Army Chief Bipin Rawat’s statement on tough action against those creating hurdles during anti-terror operations in Kashmir, saying the country’s interest was supreme. “There should be action against the stone-throwers and whoever works against national interest,” he added. “Whatever the Army Chief said, it is in national interest. There is no need to misinterpret it. There is nothing wrong in the statement,” he said. Asked about the prevailing security situation in J&K, Rijiju said he would not like to comment on the routine law and order matters. — PT

    Govt advises locals to stay away from encounter sites

    Srinagar, February 16

    The government has advised the public to stay away from the counter-insurgency operation sites for their own safety and ordered that prohibitory restrictions would be imposed within a radius of three kilometres from the site of any such operations.The district administrations of Srinagar, Budgam and Shopian advised people not to move towards or assemble near the places where encounters take place between security forces and militants to avoid loss and injuries to precious human lives.Further, prohibitory restrictions have been imposed within the radius of three kilometres from the site of any counter-insurgency operation in these districts, an official spokesman said.However, these curbs would not apply to the movement of ambulances, medical & paramedical staff, and government employees

    Militants again strike at Valley bank

    Suhail A Shah

    Anantnag, February 16

    Militants today looted Rs 3.20 lakh from J&K Bank’s Turk-e-Wangam branch in Shopian district of south Kashmir. This was the fourth such robbery in less than three months in the Kashmir valley.The gunmen, believed to be three or four in number, fired several shots in the air before forcing their entry into the Turk-e-Wangam branch of the bank.“The gunmen barged into the bank and looted around Rs 3.20 lakh,” said Shopian Superintendent of Police Tahir Saleem. He said the gunmen were militants.After the police reached the bank soon after the incident, they had to beat a hasty retreat due to violent protests of local youths. The youths alleged that the robberies were being staged by security forces to malign militants.However, the police said the protest took place to provide the militants time to flee.Today’s robbery was the fourth such incident in less than three months. The other three robberies took place at J&K Bank branches in Pulwama and Budgam districts in November and December last year.After a robbery in the Ratnipora area of Pulwama on December 15, the police had claimed that Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were caught on CCTV cameras of the bank, establishing that militants were behind the robberies.The police had cited demonetisation as a possible reason for the robberies. Soon after, the LeT had issued a statement distancing itself from the robberies.

    Four robberies after demonetisation

    • November 21, 2016: Gunmen attack J&K Bank’s branch in the Arihal area of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, loot Rs 13 lakh
    • December 8, 2016: Gunmen loot Rs 13.38 lakh from the J&K Bank branch in the Charar-e-Sharief area of central Kashmir’s Budgam district
    • December 15, 2016: Militants barge into the Ratnipora branch of J&K Bank in Pulwama district of south Kashmir, take away Rs 9.84 lakh
    • February 16, 2017: Rs 3.20 looted from the J&K Bank branch in Turk-e-Wangam of Shopian district insouth Kashmir

    Soldier commits suicide in J&K’s Samba town

    AMMU: A soldier committed suicide by shooting himself with his service weapon in the garrison town of Samba on the Jammu-Pathankot national highway on Thursday. He was identified as Havildar Kishan Singh Rathore of 24 Grenadiers, a native of Chapra village in Nagpur district of Rajasthan. “Havildar Kishan Singh Rathore shot himself in the neck with his INSAS rifle at Maheshwar, which has Samba Brigade. He died on the spot,” said a police officer.


    Shooting The Brother

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    Shot at, jailed, assaulted, branded a deserter. All this for exposing his seniors in a theft of seized gold. After 26 years of a traumatic ordeal, the army officer has been reinstated

    Shooting The Brother

    Sometime on April 11, 1991, an army vehicle making its way from Kupwara to Srinagar pulled to a stop. The driver got out and an armed soldier leaned into the veh­icle from the other side and said, half-inquiringly…“Lieutenant sa’ab?” He just wanted to confirm whether the one riding shotgun was indeed Second Lieutenant Shatrughan Singh Chauhan. Upon receiving a positive response, without a further word, the soldier (later identified as a sepoy)emptied the clip of his AK-47 ass­ault rifle in the direction of the passenger seat. A sole bullet from the arbitrary spray created a hole in Chauhan’s left flank at entry—two inches below his left ribs.

    Randomness can have both happy and cruel outcomes. From the young second lieutenant’s view, the bullet traced a lucky trajectory, going glancingly through a portion of his torso, spilling out some of his guts as it exited hardly an inch to the left of his navel. This was the early 1990s—militancy in Kashmir was young and happening. The gunfire drew the immediate att­ention of a nearby Border Sec­urity Force (BSF) vehicle, whose jawans chased the retreating men, assuming they were milit­ants. The chinar leaves overhead would have been in their spanking summer green as Chauhan slumped from the vehicle to the ground and stumbled in a trail of blood and guts towards the BSF post, losing consciousness on the way.

    Almost 26 years later, the officer recalls the episode with none of the bitterness gone. “It was a soldier from my battalion. He had been ordered to kill me,” claims Chauhan, lifting up his shirt to display the scar that remains, as he sits at his ancestral home in Mainpuri, Uttar Pradesh. In the grand tomes of military history, that shooting itself may not have qualified even as a footnote. But the sequence of events since that day ensures that it may come to influence, through the force of precedence, a whole domain that’s opaque to the outside world: the semi-autonomous world of Ind­ian armed forces’ law.

    How did the officer get caught in a situation where his own men put a bullet into him? The backstory is as bizarre as its legal sequel. It all started on April 11, 1990—exa­ctly a year before Chauhan was shot—when his unit seized 147 bars of gold during a routine search operation. Those gold bars (most probably smuggled across the border to fund militants) have since disappeared; as per records, last seen by a sepoy, allegedly being stashed into standard-issue blankets by Chauhan’s superiors. But they left a trail of blood and the old malaise of systemic injustice foll­owed in its wake—what the Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT) has described as an “honour killing of the career and ambition of a young commissioned officer”.

    It was a protracted trial by fire, and it came in two flavours. One was official. There was a court-martial for desertion—which carries a death penalty—and for theft, which led to a dishonourable discha­rge. There were several inquiries, initiated by authorities including the chief of army staff (COAS), two defence ministers, a parliamentary committee and so on. (This included the classic inversion in which the shooting was converted into a suicide attempt.) Outside of all that, allegedly there was another unsuccessful attempt at murder and a brutal assault by superiors.

    It took over a quarter century before things could end on a happy note for Cha­uhan. His tortuous legal battles have fina­lly culminated in a recent verdict by the Lucknow bench of the AFT, which accep­ted his version of the story, reinstated him to the rank of Lt Colonel and awarded him costs of Rs 4 crore and a further Rs 1 crore to be paid into the Army Central Welfare Fund. The bench of Air Marshall Anil Chopra and Justice (retd) D.P. Singh also directed that an FIR be lodged to probe the murder attempt using the AK-47. Further, that the COAS should probe the disappea­rance of the 147 gold biscuits and act against the off­icers who persecuted Chauhan.

    Tribunal has ordered an FIR to probe the attempt to murder Chauhan and the loss of 147 gold biscuits seized in a 1990 raid.

    The AFT noted that the role of his supe­riors, including the General Officer Commanding-in Chief (GOC-IC)—the highly-­decorated Lt Gen Mohammad Ahmed Zaki—commandant Colonel K.R.S. Panwar and associates, “seems to be not up to mark and suffers from extraneous considerati­ons”. Zaki, approached for his response, still sticks by the suicide story (see interview). As for Panwar, Outlook sent him a detailed questionnaire, but he declined to comment on specifics. All he would say is that “Chauhan has taken the whole country for a ride…and 99 per cent of what he’s saying is falsehood and lies. The government is fighting (the case), and might app­eal. Please ask them for comments.

    But a different narrative emerges elsewhere. A fitting description is in the handwritten summary of evidence by Col K.S. Dalal and presented before the AFT. “The case is fabricated, and the people who had actually been apprehended for offences committed on 11 Apr 90 were made witnesses, with the only difference that those offences were now put on Lt Chauhan,” it said. “L/Nk Anil (was) caught red-handed lifting money and so he played the main role. Nk Kailash was apprehended with stolen money. It was put on Lt Chauhan. Sep Lakhan was invo­lved in molestation, he put the blame on Lt Chauhan. As the days passed, stories were fabricated and evidence interwoven. However, discrepancies remained, discrepancies which cannot be explained.” For instance, the evidence off­ered by two witnesses did not match with each other’s—witness depositions seemed fairly haphazard. “The truth has got buried in the rumour statements and contradictions between witnesses.”

    Despite the tribunal’s favourable ruling, success is still a few hard steps away for Chauhan. The army has to actually reinstate Chauhan—and probably offer him a retirement scheme. This is of course just a formality, in terms of his actual career. Some of his batchmates are now brigadiers and major generals. At 55, Chauhan now runs a group of educational institutions around Mainpuri and even contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections on a BJP ticket from that constituency (eventually losing to Mulayam Singh Yadav). “What would I do in the army at this age?” asks Chauhan, poised between posters of Field Marshals Sam Manekshaw and K.C. Cariappa, hanging on the outside wall of his school’s office.

    Apart from the reinstatement, the army and police have to investigate the conspiracy behind the attempt to murder, assault and theft charges levelled by Chauhan against his senior officers. The army can appeal to the Supreme Court, but the overwhelming evidence in Chauhan’s favour, detailed in the 300-page AFT order, may not evoke a sense of confidence in government counsel. Outlook has reviewed the AFT order, the army’s inquiry reports, court-martial and summary of evidence testimonies and documents, the report of the parliamentary committee on petitions and other material documents such as official letters, medical reports, Right to Information (RTI) replies and so on.

    ***

    This was hardly the life Chauhan had in his mind’s eye back when his family gave him a grand send-off after he was commissioned as a second lieutenant (a rank now redundant) of the Indian army, pos­ted with the 6th Rajput Regiment. He was, after all, the household’s first officer in three generations of soldiers, all of whom had served the same battalion. Also, a paternal uncle had retired as a subedar major with the military police and a cousin is a serving colonel in the Artillery Regiment.

    The unforeseen twist that was to change his life came pretty early: a mere 12 days after Chauhan had joined service in the spring of 1990. March was just coming to close when, after post-commissioning training and a leave, Chauhan took up his posting near the LoC in Kashmir. On April 11, with around 300 soldiers, Chauhan and other officers were deployed on a house-to-house search operation in Lakshmanpur, Batamaloo, in Srinagar city.

    During one of the searches, Lance Naik Anil Kumar was caught stealing money and gold jewellery from civilians. The episode was witnessed by civilians, CRPF personnel and other soldiers (to which they testified later in court). Col Panwar, the commanding officer, was informed and, Chauhan says, he punished Kumar with a caning and dismissed him from the raids for the rest of the day. Later, Kumar, who had a criminal record, was used as a sole witness to establish the false allegations of theft and molestation against Chauhan.

    A FIGHTER

    Mental pain and losing his career have not dissuaded Chauhan

    PHOTOGRAPH BY JITENDER GUPTA

    Around 2 pm, Chauhan’s platoon discov­ered the 147 gold biscuits (bearing the Bri­tish ‘Johnson Matthey’ brand) weighing around 30 kg from a house. The price of the haul would be worth around Rs 96 lakh at 1990 prices and Rs 9 crore at today’s prices.

    The men in that house—a local named Lone and four other youth—were taken into custody and the seized gold biscuits were laid out on an army jeep for display. According to Chauhan and eyewitness testimonies by soldiers, Col Panwar sent him to take down a Pakistani flag strung on a nearby tree. When Chauhan came back, the locals had been released. Soldiers also testified that Panwar took the gold biscuits in his jeep back to the base. That evening, the unit celebrated the seizure with two pegs of rum each for the jawans and a party at the mess for the officers.

    Ex-defence ministers George Fernandes and Sharad Pawar did help Chauhan. In ’08, a Lok Sabha panel took up his case.

    “The next day (April 12), when the unit was departing for another day’s operation, Col Panwar said we should not return empty-handed like the previous day,” says Chauhan. “I was flabbergasted and remar­ked that a seizure of 147 gold biscuits could not be described as empty-handed. The colonel replied with the words ‘What gold biscuits’, and admonished me for insubordination. That broke my morale.”

    The only people who denied this exch­ange (or even that such a meeting took place) were the officers ranked between Chauhan and Panwar—2nd Lt Rajiv Shu­kla, Lt Col M.S. Rawat, Captain Amit Haj­ela and Major Mukesh Sangoori. These were the very officers, Chauhan alleges, who assaulted him, implicated him in false charges and fabricated evidence during the court-martial. That night, Chauhan claims, the first plan to kill him was set out. He claims that a sentry was ordered to shoot him, as he appeared to check the guard duty at 1 am. Luckily for Chauhan, he evaded death by reporting for duty two hours early. “The Captain called me later and asked why I had not checked the duty. I told him that the sentry post register, which I had signed, would verify that I had monitored the post,” says Chauhan.

    The next day, April 13, Chauhan and Lt Shukla went to Col V.P.S. Chauhan, the officer in charge of operations and intelligence. Not finding him at home, Chauhan told his wife that they had recovered 147 gold biscuits and this fact was being suppressed. Col V.P.S. Chauhan also arranged for them to meet Lt Gen Zaki, who refu­sed to hear his complaint. Col Chauhan did not respond to calls to join Chauhan’s court-martial. The colonel’s wife, Indu Chauhan, later confirmed this in an affidavit to a government-instituted court of inquiry in 1993, but it was already too late for the young officer. On returning to the base, Lt Shukla allegedly informed Col Panwar that Chauhan had reported against them.

    That night, Col Panwar was missing from dinner at the mess. A jawan went to inquire if the colonel was coming for dinner and later told the court he saw the officer busy stashing the gold biscuits in a quilt. During his cross-examination, Panwar had asked this soldier to describe the gold biscuits. “I don’t know, sir. I just saw them for a few seconds. You have seen them closer and for longer,” he quipped.

    In the 1992 Hollywood blockbuster, A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise played a navy lawyer who defended two soldiers accused of fratricide during a ‘Code Red’—a brutal beating used to discipline a soldier. Indian soldiers call it a ‘kambal (blanket) parade’, used since the colonial era. On the night of April 13, Chauhan was given a kambal par­ade. The blanket dulls the surface impact and thus largely prevents external injuries, but Chauhan still has to take regular treatment for the severe, long-term damage he suffered that night. He blamed Hajela, Sangoori and Rawat for the assault and says at least 10 people saw him after the assault, including a soldier who testified to having cleaned Chauhan’s blood off the sheets.

    The second day after that brutal beating, on April 15, Panwar sent Chauhan on leave, and he flew down to his home in UP. His world turned topsy-turvy, and his mind in a mess, Chauhan was admitted in a suici­dal state to the Air Force Hospital in Kanpur briefly before being transferred to the Command Hospital in Lucknow, where he was diagnosed with neurotic depression and anxiety due to the assault. In the meantime, his father approached the army headquarters in New Delhi for help.

    At this stage, the heavy hand of the system came into play. An order was issued from Kashmir and some soldiers were sent to bring Chauhan back for treatment at a hospital in Udhampur in May 1990. A backdated rep­ort was used to show that Chauhan had gone AWOL (absent without official leave) and this was treated as akin to ‘desertion during war’—a charge that can even invite the death penalty as per the Army Act 1950. A charge of desertion is usually announced after 30 days of a sold­ier going AWOL, following a court-martial. The letter issued by his regiment decl­ared Chauhan a deserter through an antedated court of inquiry on April 13, a day before the same officers had signed his leave papers. The documents, produced during the court-martial and later before the AFT, spoke their own truth.

    While soldiers were transferring Chauhan to the hospital in Udhampur, 2nd Lt Shukla was spotted in Lucknow. Chauhan’s wife shot off letters to the government and the then COAS, Gene­ral S.F. Rodrigues. The COAS directed the GOC, Lt Gen Mohammad Zaki, to investigate. Zaki, in turn, turned over the probe to the very officers against whom Chauhan had made allegations of assault and theft.

    On June 7, 1990, Lt Col Rawat and Lt Shukla went to Jammu and took custody of Chauhan the next day. They planned to take him to Srinagar and then to the regiment’s station near the LoC. In Srinagar, a sepoy allegedly warned Chauhan that he’d be killed en route. The custody was illegal. Col Mukhopadhyay, registrar of the Udh­ampur hospital where Chauhan was admi­tted, later testified that the docume­nts used to transfer him were forged. Cha­uhan says Mukhopadhyay helped him esc­ape by driving him down in his car to Jallandhar from where he escaped back home.

    Meanwhile, the army’s adjutant gene­ral directed that Chauhan be admitted at Delhi’s Army Hospital and handed over the inquiry to Maj Gen R.S. Taragi. In his report to the COAS, Taragi gave weight to Chauhan’s allegati­ons and recommended a high-level inqu­iry. Rubbishing the counter-charges leve­lled against Chauhan to discredit him, he also put it on paper that he feared Chauhan may be eliminated.

    The COAS then directed an inquiry, but the roulette wheel turned against Chauhan again. A summary of evidence was condu­cted twice. The first one found no reason to prosecute Chauhan. Then, without any explanations for its necessity, a second one was ordered. On its findings a brigadier recommended a summary court-martial to try Chauhan for going AWOL, which Chauhan says was described as desertion during war. A summary court-martial is only conducted during war time and the maximum sentence for desertion is death.

    The order convening the court martial was itself illegal—it named the adjudicators but not the accused or the charges against him.

    All the extreme disorientation of war—and a gathering sense of doom—would likely have been felt by Chauhan as he was taken to a brigade camp at Niari near the LoC in Kashmir for his court-martial. But doom of another sort was lurking too. It was on the way for a medical checkup prior to the proceedings that he was shot at.

    Chauhan regained consciousness in the 92 Base Hospital, Srinagar on April 15, and he was operated upon four days later. The aftermath of the near-death experience contained its own elements of drama. As he recuperated at the hospital for a month, Chauhan’s family was initially not allowed to meet him—it took the Supreme Court to allow their writ of habeas corpus before that came about. But while the petition was pending, Chauhan’s father, being an ex-serviceman, managed to sneak in. His wife too dressed up as a nurse and spent a few nights in the hospital to attend to him.

    As Chauhan was discharged on May 14, the stage was set for the legal drama—­the court-martial commenced in three weeks, on June 7, 1991. Already, the sca­les seemed tipped against him—no FIR had been lodged for the murderous assa­ult against him despite his father complaining to the police superintendent in Srinagar. But there was more weight against Chauhan. The convening order of the court-­martial itself was illegal—against rules, it mentioned the names of the adju­dicators but not of the accused or the char­ges against him. (The AFT was to note later, “…This might have been done to conceal the proceeding from Army Headquarters. This goes to the root of the matter…”)

    What’s worse, Chauhan claims he was tried without being allowed any counsel. “It was conducted in Niari, just five km from the LoC,” he says. “Which lawyer would come there to def­end me?” The court-martial made no mention of gold biscuits. At least one of the judges, Captain Manveet Singh, tried to make the proceedings fair and wanted to allow Chauhan to ask all pertinent questions. But another judge, ranked senior to Capt Singh, wouldn’t have any of it. The conflict nearly escalated into blows. “They lifted chairs to hit each other,” recalls Chauhan.

    Capt Singh also opposed the court-­mart­ial since Chauhan had no defe­nce counsel. When the court convened after 10 days, says Chauhan, Lt Gen Zaki had even passed an order removing Singh and replacing him with another officer. This dubious trial found Chauhan guilty and imposed a sentence of seven years’ rigorous imprisonment and cashiered him from service.

    After the court-martial, when Chauhan sought action for the attempt on his life, he got a letter informing him that there was instead going to be another court-martial for “attempt to commit sui­cide”. When Chauhan replied he would def­end himself, the charges and proceedings were dropped. The AFT notes, “…. Either the respondents were frightened and app­rehensive that if the truth was unearthed it would disrepute the army or some pressure must have been exerted to save someone’s neck.”

    After he served a sentence for around eight months in Srinagar, the COAS commuted Chauhan’s sentence to the time alr­eady served. Chauhan filed a writ against his conviction with the Allahabad High Court in 1993 and it remained pending for 19 years till it was transferred to the AFT in 2012. In between, Chauhan had called for the court-martial records, but the army claimed the records had been destroyed within 2-3 months, as opposed to the statutory 10 years. Later, an RTI helped ‘loc­ate’ the records—and all the crucial testimonies and evidence collected during the court-martial came to light.

    Chauhan recalls meeting Lt Gen Zaki on April 12, 1990, itself, to complain about the gold biscuits but Zaki “was livid and refused to accept the truth about the gold biscuits and instead questioned how a rec­ent inductee could find the temerity to complain about his senior,” he says. Lt Gen Zaki could have verified it with the jawans who had witnessed the seizure. Many of these same jawans had testified in court and during the court-martial, authenticating Chauhan’s claims.

    The dramatis personae who dotted Cha­uhan’s 26-year battle for justice weren’t all villains. There were Maj Gen Taragi and Col Mukhopadhyay, and many others like them. The AFT commended Col Dalal and Manveet Singh as ‘real heroes’ for not buckling under pressure during the court-martial. Other inquiry officers too had given favourable orders, though all in vain at that stage.

    Former defence ministers George Ferna­ndes and Sharad Pawar too helped greatly. Even as an MP, Fernandes wrote letters and advocated Chauhan’s case. Convinced of the officer’s innocence, Fernandes also published a book titled Lt S.S. Chauhan vs The Indian Army. It was through such efforts, involving other MPs too, that the parliamentary committee came about. In 2008, a Lok Sabha committee of petitions took up Chauhan’s case. It interviewed senior officers and bureaucrats and concluded that Chauhan should be reinstated and his allegations properly probed.

    At the AFT, two benches recused themselves from hearing Chauhan’s case. The principal bench finally agreed to take it up only if Chauhan stayed silent throughout the proceedings. Chauhan undertook the vow solemnly and broke it only on the judge’s request, while the court was examining evidence of the shooting in which he had nearly been killed.

    The tribunal went through charge after charge and set them aside based on hard evidence and testimony the court-martial had earlier ignored. Several contradictions emerged. For example, officers claimed Chauhan stole money, but wrote down two different amounts in two different places. There is also an official record that Chauhan had lunch with senior officers the day after he was charged with stealing. Why, the AFT asked, would officers be dining with a thief amongst them?

    The tribunal also weighed the treatment meted out to Chauhan. Besides the assault and the firing, medical reports were twis­ted and movement orders tampered with, favourable inquiry reports ignored and no principles of justice were followed. The army now says it is “examining” related documents. “Once this is completed, acti­ons against provisions of law will be taken,” an army spokesperson said, adding “we have the greatest respect” for the court judgement. Maj Gen (retd) Taragi recalls meeting Chauhan’s father, but he—like Col Dalal­—didn’t want to comment beyond that when Outlook contacted. Col V.P.S. Chauhan is settled abroad, sources say.

    The physical and mental pain, the decades of waiting for justice and losing his dream career—all that has not dissuaded Chauhan. His elder son is interning at a government hospital and daughter is a civil servant. He points to a photo of his younger son in an equestrian event. “He’s preparing to be a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force,” he beams proudly.


    By Ushinor Majumdar in Mainpuri and New Delhi


    China defends move to block ban on Azhar

    Simran Sodhi

    Tribune News Service

    New Delhi, February 8

    China today defended its decision to block the US’ proposal in the UN to get Jaish chief Masood Azhar designated as global terrorist.China said the conditions required for backing the ban on Azhar had not been met. In a way, the Chinese position is a reiteration of its now oft-stated posture on Azhar. This is the third time that China has put a “technical hold” on banning Azhar.On the significance that the proposal this time was moved by the US, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang today said, “Whoever submitted the request we believe all members of the committee will act in line with regulations of the Security Council and its affiliations.” He was dismissive on whether China was protecting Azhar at Pakistan’s behest.


    MoD learnt name of missile from Net

    New Delhi: In an embarrassment of sorts, the Ministry of Defence on Friday said it learnt from the Internet that the long-range missile system being jointly developed with Israel is referred to as the ‘Barak-8’. This faux pas came to light less than five months after the Government’s Press Information Bureau issued a statement welcoming the successful test-fire of the ‘Barak-8’. India and Israel are developing a series of surface-to-air missiles — the Barak — which can be fired from land as well as warships. TNS


    Another BSF man posts video, claims liquor for force sold to outsiders

    Another BSF man posts video, claims liquor for force sold to outsiders
    Photo for representation purpose only.

    Gandhidham (Gujarat), January 28A BSF clerk has posted a video on Facebook in which he has alleged that liquor meant for its personnel was being sold to outsiders and claimed that despite his complaint in this regard no action has been taken.As the video by the clerk, Navratan Choudhary, went viral, BSF officials said it would order inquiry into his complaint.Video courtesy: Facebook account of Navratan ChoudharyThe claim comes close on the heels of a BSF jawan’s video who alleged poor quality food was being served to the personnel in 29 Battalion in Poonch.Choudhary, a resident of Bikaner in Rajasthan, who works at 150 battalion of Border Security Force at Gandhidham in Kutch district of Gujarat, uploaded the video on January 26, in which a civilian is seen carrying liquor bottles.Gujarat is a dry state, where sale and consumption of liquor is prohibited.In the video, Choudhary said, “Our Constitution provides equal rights to all, but we (BSF jawans) are deprived from that as we cannot even ask for good food. If someone complains about this by mistake, he is treated as if he has committed a very big offence, as if we have asked for a fortune and not food.””Everybody wants corruption to end, but nobody is coming forward to end this. Every time only a whistle blower is punished and all rules are applied against him only, but nothing happens to the corrupt,” he alleged.”I am being punished for being an honest and true soldier of this country. Every time I complained about wrongdoings, I was transferred to a new place. But they cannot break my morale.”Now they have crossed all the limits of dictatorship.I can tell you that you can openly do corruption in the BSF, but if you complain about this, you have committed a big crime,” he claimed in the video which runs for over three minutes.”Liquor (meant for jawans) bought from jawans’ saved money, is being sold to outsiders. I registered a complaint four months ago, but no action has been taken yet. So I had to come before the country (like this) to show this.“I am uploading a video, where an outsider is seen carrying liquor bottles (from 150 battalion camp). I registered a complaint, but no action was taken. Let me see what action BSF takes after this (posting a video proof). I will provide more evidences,” he said.Meanwhile, BSF officials said Choudhary is a clerk working with 150 Battalion at Gandhindham, and is currently on leave at his hometown in Bikaner from where he has uploaded the video.”He has a habit of making complains most of which lack basis. He has uploaded video from his hometown in Bikaner, where he is on leave. We have asked him to join back and will constitute an inquiry committee to look into his complaint,” said an official who refused to be named.Earlier this month, BSF jawan Tej Bahadur Yadav, posted at 29 Battalion in Poonch, had alleged that poor quality food was being given to the troops posted along the border. The video had triggered a flurry of reactions with the PMO also seeking a detailed factual report on the incident. — PTI


    5 Sikhs inducted into US Army with religious insignia intact

    Washington, January 24

    Five Sikhs have been granted approval to serve in the US Army with their religious insignia intact, days after the army issued a new regulation under which servicemen who wear turbans, hijabs or beards can be enrolled in the military. The new set of rules has been issued by Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning.“After a 35-year presumptive ban on observant Sikhs, our nation’s largest employer has taken a vital step in embracing policies that reflect the rich diversity of our nation,” said Harsimran Kaur, Sikh Coalition Legal Director. “We look forward to permanent policy change across all branches of the military so that all religious minorities can freely serve without exception,” she said.Private Shabaddeep Singh Jammu, an Infantry Recruit who was born and raised in Elk Grove, California, vowed to follow a path of service after tragically losing his brother in 2013.“The ability to serve my country and faith has been a lifelong goal. I’m now honouring my brother while pursuing a career that serves our nation without compromising my beliefs,” he said. — PTI


    EX-SERVICEMEN OF PUNJAB IN SUPPORT OF CAPT AMARINDER SINGH::19 Jan 2015::AT PATHANKOT

    Today UFESM PTK  AND SANJHA MORCHA   organised  ESM meeting  at pathankot to support and show solidarity with Congress candidates
    1.Shri Amit Mantu,—-nominee from SUJANPUR
    2. Shri Amit Vij——-nominee from PATHANKOT
    3. Shri Joginderpal––NOMINEE FROM BHOA
                          All were present
    2.Approx 1000 ESM along with Brig Prahlad Singh,President Punjab Unit Sanjha Morcha ,Col Sunit Pathania,Col G Salaria and Col Prem Singh participated. 
    IMG-20170119-WA0042IMG-20170119-WA0043IMG-20170119-WA0045IMG-20170119-WA0050
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    Army Day: Kin of martyrs honoured

    Army Day: Kin of martyrs honoured

    Tribune News Service

    Dehradun, January 15

    Maj Gen SC Mohanty, General Officer Commanding (GOC), Golden Key Division, laid a wreath at the Golden Key war memorial in Clement Town on behalf of the division to commemorate 69th Army Day here today.He complimented all ranks of the division who had sacrificied their lives in the service of the nation. Maj Gen Mohanty, while remembering martyrs, said their sacrifices would never be forgotten. He said the Golden Key Division had a glorious history of valour and sacrifice which the world saw not only during the world wars but also during 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan. The day is celebrated every year on January 15 in commemoration of Field Marshal KM Cariappa’s taking over as the first Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army from Sir Francis Butcher, the last British Commander in 1949.He honoured Veer Naris and veterans of the city. In another function, GOC Uttarakhand Sub Area Major General Balraj Mehta laid a wreath at Lal Gate War Memorial to commemorate the Army Day.

    Kharga Corps celebrates 69th Army Day

    Tribune News Service

    Ambala January 15

    The Kharga Corps celebrated the 69th Army Day at the Ambala Cantonment on Sunday.Lt-Gen Jaiveer Singh Negi, General Officer Commanding, Kharga Corps, laid a wreath at the ‘Vijay Smarak’ in remembrance of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in service of the nation.Army Day is celebrated to commemorate the ‘Indianisation’ of the erstwhile British Indian Army. On this day in the year 1948, the first Indian General, KM Cariappa (later Field Marshal), took over as the first Commander in Chief of the Army from Sir Francis Butcher, the last British Commander.