By Pradip R. Sagar March 24, 2018 -THE WEEK
The Indian Army has initiated court martial proceedings against the former commanding officer of a Alwar-based military unit after a 27-year-old woman Army captain levelled allegations of sexual harassment against the officer.
Captain Poonam (name changed) joined the Army’s Signals Corps as a technical officer in 2013.
In August 2015, she filed a sexual harassment complaint against the commanding officer of her unit while she was posted at the Alwar military station in Rajasthan.
In her complaint to higher authorities, the woman officer alleged that her commanding officer started sexually abusing her soon after joining her unit. He allegedly touched her private parts and made remarks like “Do you have a boyfriend?”
When her complaint went unheeded, the victim wrote to then Army chief general Dalbir Singh Suhag, saying she approached him “bypassing all channels for redressal of my grievances because an earlier attempt through proper channel failed to provide justice.”
In fact, her father wrote to then defence minister Manohar Parrikar by making an emotional appeal, “If this is the way the Indian Army treats its daughters, I’m not sure if any parent will ever send their daughters to the Army.”
Eventually, Army Headquarters started a court of inquiry in late 2015, when her issue was highlighted by the national media.
After two years of extensive proceedings of the court of inquiry and subsequently the summary of evidences, which established prima facie guilt of the commanding officer, court martial proceedings were ordered to commence from Saturday (March 24).
“General Court Martial of the former Commanding Officer of 12 Field Sub area will commence from March 24,” an Army order stated; the order mentions two brigadiers have been made witnesses.