Antony orders probe into woman army officer’s allegations

July 16th, 2008 - 7:38 pm ICT by IANS  


New Delhi/Chandigarh, July 16 (IANS) Defence Minister A.K. Antony Wednesday ordered the Indian Army to probe allegations of “physical and mental torture” levelled by a woman captain against three senior male officers, even as the army said the investigations had begun. “The minister has taken a serious view of the matter and ordered that it be thoroughly investigated and a report presented to him,” a defence ministry official said in New Delhi.

In Chandigarh, a senior officer said the investigations had already begun.

“We have to determine who is guilty and for that we have formed a committee that has already started its investigations,” Major General Kamal Mohe told reporters.

“The officer has charged three of her seniors but we cannot take this case at its face value and have to take into account both sides (of the coin).

“Only after analysing every minute detail of the issue can we reach some conclusion,” said Mohe, Major General Army Service Corps (MGASC) at the Western Command headquarters at Chandimandir, adjacent to Chandigarh.

“The officers charged by the woman officer also have a social dignity and family life and we owe our fair support to both the parties,” he added.

Captain Poonam Kaur of the Army Supply Corps, based at the Kalka military station, 30 km from Chandigarh, had Tuesday levelled the allegations before the media and had also complained that she was under house arrest.

Mohe flatly denied this, saying Kaur was free to move anywhere she wanted to.

However, Kaur’s going to the media and giving statements went against the Army Act and this aspect would also be taken into account in the investigation.

The army had immediately denied Kaur’s charges Tuesday, saying she had a history of making complaints and her “mental weakness” had been recorded in her official profile.

An Indian Army statement issued Wednesday in New Delhi said that Kaur had been posted to Kalka Oct 18 last year after a stint in the northeast.

“During December, the officer requested for allotment of married accommodation on compassionate grounds. Though she was unmarried and not authorised married accommodation, her case was sympathetically considered and a married accommodation was allotted to her for her mother to stay with her. Instead her grandmother has been staying with her at present,” the statement said.

On June 30, Kaur was ordered to move to Pathankot for commanding one of the detachments of her unit located there.

“She accepted (the transfer) but citing personal reasons, requested that her move be delayed till July 11. On July 11, when she was again instructed to move, she requested that she be permitted to leave on July 12, which was also agreed to,” the statement said.

On July 12, Kaur “refused to move to Pathankot thereby disobeying legal and legitimate orders. On July 13, she asked for an interview with the Major General ASC at the Western Command headquarters.

“Her request was accepted and she was granted an interview on July 14. She was asked to give her grievance in writing. She refused and returned to her unit,” the statement said.

“On July 15, Major General ASC visited the ASC battalion at Kalka to meet the Commanding Officer as also Kaur. She refused to come out of her quarters to meet the Major General ASC or the Commanding Officer,” the statement added.

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