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Wednesday, 16 July 2008

From Today's Papers - 16 Jul


















Captain alleges harassment, Army cites ‘mental weakness’
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 15
A woman Army officer posted at Kalka, near here, has complained of physical and mental harassment at the hands of three senior officers of her unit. The Army, on the other hand, has denied the allegations.

Captain Poonam Kaur, who has been in the Army for three years and is serving with an ASC battalion at Kalka since October, has blamed the battalion’s commanding officer, the second-in-command and the adjutant for harassing her.

She has also alleged that she has been placed under house arrest in her quarters and is not being allowed to move out. Her mother, Hardev Kaur, who reached Kalka from Jalandhar claimed that she and her son were forced by the Army to leave her daughter’s house this morning.

On July 13, she had put in a request for a personal interview with the major general heading the Army Service Corps branch at Headquarters Western Command, Chandimandir, to highlight her grievances.

A spokesperson for Western Command said that on June 30, the officer was ordered to move to Pathankot for commanding one of the detachments of the unit located there. Citing personal reasons, she requested that her move be delayed till July 11.

Again when she was instructed to move on July 11, she requested that she be permitted to leave on July 12. However, on July 12 Capt Poonam refused to move to Pathankot, thereby disobeying legitimate orders.

While denying that the officer had been placed under house arrest, the spokesperson said that her request for interview with the major general was granted, but when she was asked to give her grievance in writing, she refused and returned to her unit.

The major general visited the battalion at Kalka today to meet the Commanding Officer and Captain Poonam, but she refused to come out of her quarters. Captain Poonam claimed that she was alone at that time and under intense pressure and wanted to meet the senior officer only in the presence of her relatives. Her mother claimed that it was only after the major general left that she was allowed to return to her daughter’s house.

The spokesperson claimed that during her last posting at Misamari in Assam, Captain Poonam had indulged in similar activities. She had refused to carry out her assigned duties and when questioned had alleged “mental harassment”. These were inquired into and disciplinary action was contemplated. Keeping in view her young age and the pleadings of her mother, she was let off. However her "mental weakness" was recorded in her profile.

There have been several complaints from women officers of sexual harassment. Recently, Capt Neha Rawat had raised allegations against a major general in Leh, who is now facing a court martial.

An officer in the Judge Advocate General’s department, now posted in Chandimandir, had blamed her immediate superior on similar grounds. Two officers, including the commanding officer of a unit in Jalandhar, faced court martial after a woman officer from the same unit alleged sexual assault.

Woman Army officer alleges 'harassment' by seniors
Press Trust of India
Tuesday, July 15, 2008 (Chandigarh)

A woman captain posted with the Army Service Corps in Haryana on Tuesday alleged she was ''physically and mentally tortured'' by her seniors but the army said she had made similar charges earlier too.
The officer alleged she had been ''physically and mentally tortured'' by her three of her superiors and said she filed a written complaint on July 13.
The officer, who is unmarried, was posted at Kalka from Misamari in Assam on October 18, 2007. In December, she requested allotment of married accommodation on compassionate grounds, which was granted by the Army.
''On occasion, my parents and sister used to come and live with me there. However, this irked the three officers and they used to force me to throw them out. If I did not pay heed to them, I was sent on duties at far off places, which anyone can check on record,'' she said.
She also claimed she had been placed under ''house arrest'' and was unable to move. She said she had filed a written complaint on July 13.
Meanwhile, the army said a senior officer in the corps visited the ASC battalion in Kalka to meet the Commanding Officer and also the lady officer.
''However, she refused to come out of her quarters and did not meet the Major General or the CO,'' it said in a statement.
The army also denied she had been placed under any restrictions. It alleged during her last posting at Misamari, she had indulged in similar activities.
''She had refused to carry out her assigned duties and when questioned had alleged mental harassment. These were inquired into and disciplinary action was contemplated.
Keeping in view her age and the pleadings of her mother she was let off,'' it said.
The army said Kaur was provided married accommodation after her request was ''sympathetically considered'', but ''instead her grandmother was staying with her.
''On June 30, the officer was ordered to move to Pathankot for commanding one of the detachments of her unit located there. She accepted to go there initially, but citing personal reasons, requested that her move be delayed till July 11. When she was instructed to move on July 11, she requested that she be permitted to leave on July 12, which was also agreed,'' it said.
However, on July 12, she allegedly refused to go ''thereby disobeying legal and legitimate orders. On July 13, she asked for an interview with the Major General, ASC at headquarter, Western Command and she was asked to give her grievance in writing. She refused and returned to her unit''.
However, the officer claimed she had wanted to meet the Major General in person, but permission was refused ''after which I forwarded a written complaint to him.
''I have lots of things to speak of. But I will do that once my family is allowed to meet me. Armed guards are standing outside the place where I am right now and nobody is being allowed to meet me. I want to meet my family and later I will reveal more things in a press conference,'' she said.

India takes disciplinary action against 3 UN peacekeepers in Congo

By Iftikhar Gilani
NEW DELHI: The Indian army has taken disciplinary action against three of its UN peacekeepers in the Congo for their involvement in gold smuggling and gun running racket. An official release, however, refused to elaborate the charges, saying they were punished for “aberrant behaviour”.
The statement said that these concerned individuals were called from Congo and subjected to detailed investigations headed by an officer of three-star rank. “Subsequent to the investigations, disciplinary action against the three Indian peacekeepers have been initiated under the provisions of the Army Act,” the statement added.
Lured:
Indian army had hitherto kept the details of the investigations and the action taken against the trio under wraps. The statement while detailing the charges, said a soldier of the Indian peacekeeping contingent was lured into purchasing a small quantity of counterfeit gold dust and thus being cheated by an anti-social person.
“Investigations have revealed that the soldier concerned and his immediate superior officer, on becoming aware of having been cheated, detained the cheat to recover the soldier’s money,” read the statement.
“In light of periodic reports in sections of the media which have sought to undermine professional and ethical behaviour of the Indian peacekeepers in Congo, it is considered essential to place the facts in correct perspective lest mischievous designs of some parties with vested interests should go unchallenged and to ensure that the truth prevails,” the preface to the statement said.
“The media reports have emanated from Congo based upon various allegations levelled by either unnamed sources or by individuals of doubtful credibility, against the Indian peacekeepers of indulging in ‘gold smuggling’, ‘trading arms with the rebels’, ‘refusing to conduct operations against armed rebels and even of ‘sexual exploitation’ of locals,” the statement said. Indian Army statement further stated that all United Nations investigations have rejected all these allegations.

Soldier commits suicide in Jammu army camp
Jammu, Tue, 15 Jul 2008 ANI
Jammu, July 15 (ANI): A soldier allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself with his rifle in an Army camp in Jammu district on Tuesday. Official sources said Mustappa H of the 9 Madras Regiment shot himself during guard duty at 103 Engineering Unit in Nagrota belt of Jammu district on Tuesday. He was taken to hospital, where he was declared brought dead. A court of inquiry has been ordered in the case. (ANI)

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