Big Fist-Fight At Border Unit Shocks Army (Updated)

In news that broke early this morning on Headlines Today, there was a violent fist-fight involving Indian Army officers and soldiers of the 226 Field Regiment deployed at Nyoma, Ladakh very close to the border with China-administered Tibet.

Now the events are still unofficial, so there may be corrections, but as I understand it, here's what happened:

The incident took place late last evening during a field firing exercise by the regiment at the Mahe Field Firing Range just west of Nyoma. It is understood that a Major-rank officer had his wife with him at the range or base. Sources say a jawan or orderly "misbehaved" with either the Major or his wife (as I said, the details are sketchy), and the Major responded by beating up the jawan so severely that he needed medical attention. When the Major, in a furious temper at this time, physically stopped soldiers from transferring the injured jawan to the infirmary back at the barracks, they responded by attacking the officers.

The  unit's Commanding Officer, Colonel P. Kadam, who wasn't at the spot, rushed in when he heard about the brawl. Sources say he entered the scene, and was quickly briefed on the sidelines about what had happened. The CO then proceeded to berate the Major or Majors for trying to stop the jawans from getting their injured colleague treated for his injuries. It was at this moment that the Major or Majors allegedly snapped again, and turned their attention on their Commanding Officer, beating him up. Colonel Kadam, who is understood to have sustained injuries to his face and neck, is at the base hospital in Nyoma along with a certain number of jawans and other officers. But things didn't end there. The jawans are understood to have destroyed certain amounts of property -- allegedly setting fire to some parts of the buildings on the base.

3 Division commander Maj Gen A.L. Chavan arrived at the spot early this morning along with two Brigadiers. The Army has released a statement saying there was a "minor scuffle between officers and troops of a unit on 10/11 May 2012 in Ladakh region. The situation is under control."

Sources say Commanding Officer Colonel P. Kadam, currently recuperating from his injuries, is a Silver Gunner from the 1st Gunnery Course, "intelligent and sharp". Originally from Belapur, Thane in Maharashtra, Col Kadam served in 21 Rashtriya Rifles in Sopore during the Kargil War, after which he returned to his parent unit, the 226 Medium Regiment, a unit with an apparently chequered history as far as jawan-officer relations are concerned. A former officer with the regiment said he wasn't in the least surprised about the incident. "Something like this was just waiting to happen, considering how officers in this unit treat jawans. Col Kadam and his predecessor were meritorious officers, but not good man managers," says one former officer who worked with him.

What happened last night at Nyoma is perhaps the most troubling incident in the Indian Army in a very long time -- and we all know what a year it's been. I'll be updating this post.


Further to Army’s statement issued yesterday on the incident at the Mahe Field Ranges in Ladakh Region during the field firing exercise of  Field Regiment.

The Brigade Commander of the Artillery Brigade and General Officer Commanding of the Division interacted with the troops on 11 May 2012.  The situation was brought well under control and the Regiment is being moved back from ranges to its location with effect from 12 May 2012.  A Court of Inquiry to investigate into the circumstances under which the incident took place has commenced.

Misinterpretation and mischievous reporting to sensationalise the incident by some sections of print and electronic media need to be dispelled.  Main issues are as under:

(a) The entire episode can at worst be seen as an isolated act of indiscipline.  It can in no way be termed as mutiny.

(b) No arms and ammunition have been used by anybody. The armoury has not been captured by the troops as is being wrongly reported.

(c) The Court of Inquiry will identify the complicity of the officers and men. However, nobody has been removed, dismissed or suspended.

(d) Col P Kadam, the Commanding Officer was not assaulted by other officers, as has been wrongly reported.  The CO as well as Maj AK Sharma and Sepoy Suman Ghosh who suffered superficial injuries, have been given medical treatment.

(e) The situation is well under control.

Labels: , ,