Cause for concern

Cause for concern

Reports of a clash between officers and jawans of an army unit in Leh last week are unfortunate and should cause concern. The Indian army is considered to be among the most disciplined and professional armed forces in the world. Though there have been  cases of corruption and individual misconduct, cases of mass indiscipline have been rare. The conduct of some personnel immediately after the Operation Bluestar is the only serious incident in the past. This was the result of a special circumstance and was handled effectively. The Leh incident is different from that and had a matter of a personal nature at the root of it. This  should cause worry because a trivial incident should not lead to a flare-up of the kind that happened, given the strict code of behaviour in the armed forces.

The details of the incident are still not known, possibly because the army has clamped down on it. But it was serious enough to be taken note of by the highest leadership in the army and the defence ministry. From whatever information is available, an altercation between a jawan and an officer went out of control and led to a clash between jawans and officers and between the commanding officer and some junior officers. The situation was quickly brought under control and a court of inquiry has been ordered. There is little doubt that the unit will be disbanded and the personnel dispersed. Those who were guilty of misconduct and indiscipline will certainly be punished also. There should be no place in the army for those, both officers and jawans, who violated its strict code of discipline and chain of command.
The army should also investigate whether inhospitable areas like Leh have contributed to such situations. Members of forces deployed in insurgency-prone areas are also known to behave irrationally.  The armed forces are one institution which is largely unaffected by the deterioration in standards of conduct in  society, though it should be noted that cases of indiscipline are increasing. Sometimes there are incidents of strife between members of the forces and civilians and even other uniformed forces like the police. The army leadership should take note of them and ensure that its efficiency and image do not suffer.

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