Army officer alleges sexual harassment, authorities deny charge (Lead)

July 15th, 2008 - 9:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, July 15 (IANS) A captain in the Indian Army Tuesday alleged that she was being sexually harassed by three senior officers and was being illegally confined in her unit in Haryana’s Kalka town near here. However, the army authorities said she had a history of “mental weakness” and was not under house arrest. Captain Poonam Kaur, who is serving in an army supply and transport unit located at Kalka, alleged that she was being sexually harassed by her commanding officer Col. R.K. Sharma, his second-in-command Lt. Col. Ajay Chawla and Major Suraj Bhan.

Kaur told IANS on phone that she was being physically and mentally harassed by these officers as she turned down their sexual advances. She said that she was being illegally confined to her house at Kalka military station, 30 km from here.

A defence spokesman said that a major general of the Army Supply Corps (ASC) went to meet her Tuesday at her residence in Kalka from the Chandimandir-based Western Command headquarters near Chandigarh but she refused to come out and meet him or the commanding officer.

“It is clarified that the officer has not been placed under any restrictions and is totally free to move around. She is not under house arrest and there is no guard at her residence. A guard remains at the entry to the military station at Kalka as during normal course and it continues to be in place for the safety of the army premises and not for her obstruction,” a defence statement here said.

“During her last posting at Misamari in Assam, the officer had indulged in similar activities. She had refused to carry out her assigned duties and when questioned, she 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,” the statement added.

The defence spokesman said that Kaur was posted to Kalka Oct 18 last year from the eastern sector.

In December, the officer asked for allotment of married accommodation on compassionate grounds though she was unmarried.

The spokesman said that on June 30, the officer was ordered to move to Pathankot for commanding one of the detachments of her unit located there. She agreed to go but, citing personal reasons, requested that her move be delayed till July 11. Again, when she was instructed to move, she requested that she be permitted to leave July 12, which was also agreed to, the spokesman added.

However, the officer did not move July 12 and requested to meet the major general. She met the officer Monday but refused to give anything in writing and returned to her unit, the spokesman said.

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