CANDIGARH, India: The Chief of Army Staff, Gen. K. Sundarji, has considerably reduced the punishment awarded to Col. Jagdey Singh and Lieut. Col. H.S. Cheema, two senior officers of the Sikh Regimental, Centre, Ramgarh, by the General Court Martial (GCMs) in connection with the mutiny and mass desertion by Sikh troops as the Centre of June, 1984, it is learnt.

Two separate GCMs had in June last year sentenced Col. Cheema, the then Administrative Battalion Commander, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for four years and Col. Jagdev Singh, then Deputy Commandant of the Centre, to undergo one year’s simple imprisonment. Both were cashiered from the Army. The Army Chief, who is the final confirming authority, recently reduced the punishment of Col. Cheema to three years loss of service towards promotion and pension. Col. Jagdev Singh’s punishment has been reduced to two years loss of service towards promotion and pension. The chief has however, issued a “service reprimand” to both officers.

The two were the only officers who were tried by GCMs for the mutiny by troops. While incidents of insubordination had taken place in a number of Sikh units following Operation Blue Star in June, 1984, the most serious incident occurred at Ramgarh. The Commandant of the Sikh Regimental Centre, Brig, S.C. Puri, was killed by the mutinous troops and the Deputy Commandant, Col. Jagdey Singh and Col. Cheema were among those injured. They were tried under section 37 and 63 of the Army Act for failing to take note of simmering discontent among troop sand for being unable to exercise proper command and control.

Although, it was felt in Army circles that the two like other senior officers could not be absolved of their responsibility for the incident of collective insubordination, the sentence of the GEM was strikingly disproportionate Senior officers of all other units, where incidents of mutiny and desertion took place, were proceeded against departmentally.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 22, 1988