Defence ministry declines to take back ‘ketchup colonel’

April 3rd, 2008 - 10:38 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 3 (IANS) The defence ministry has rejected a reinstatement plea filed by a former Indian Army colonel who was dismissed from service for faking terrorists’ killings by photographing the “victims” with tomato ketchup splashed on them. Col. H.S. Kohli, who had earned the sobriquet “ketchup colonel”, had filed the petition a year ago.

According to a reliable source, the army had recommended Kohli’s reinstatement after a severe reprimand, taking the view that he had acted at the behest of his superiors - but the ministry has rejected this.

“It is a fact that the army recommended the remission of the sentence of dismissal awarded by General Court Martial to five years’ loss of seniority for promotion, five years’ loss of seniority for purpose of pension and to be severely reprimanded,” the source said.

“This would have entailed reinstatement of the ex-officer into military service. However, the MoD (ministry of defence) has rejected this,” the source added.

Kohli was cashiered in 2004 after a court martial found him guilty of the charge against him. It said he had faked the killings to claim a gallantry award.

Kohli, who was commanding a battalion in Bada Nagadun near Silchar in Assam, where the incident took place in 2003, filed his petition through army channels.

He contended that he acted at the behest of his seniors, Brigadier Suresh Rao and Maj. Gen. Ravinder Singh. Rao was still serving with a seven-year loss of service and so too was Singh, Kohli pointed out.

The complicity of the two officers had been clearly indicated through letters and taped evidence that he was being pressurized for reporting “kills”, Kohli maintained.

This, however, seems to have cut little ice with the defence ministry and the only option left to Kohli now would be to approach a civil court, an official said.

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