Chandigarh — The Government intends to retain in the Army a large number of soldiers who left their units in protest following the Army operation at Amritsar after they have undergone the punishment to be awarded to them.

It is reliably learnt that all those who will be sentenced to imprisonment of less than one year will be sent to civil prisons, as was customary of late, as this will lead to automatic dismissal from military service. The Army authorities are activating the old military prison at Trimulgarhi near Secundrabad, where the majority of those who left their units and the Sikh Regimental Centre at Ramgarh will undergo punishment. This will enable them to remain in military service.

However, those who incited troops and planned the insurgency and who were involved in the murderous attack on the commandant of the Sikh Regimental Centre, Ramgarh, will be tried by general courts martial punishable with death and life imprisonment they will be  sent to Civil prisons, If convicted. The persons in charge of the quarter guards from where weapons and other valuables were taken away are also facing GCM. Efforts are being made to hold joint trials of as many persons as possible.

Majority of the jawans will, however, either face summary courts martial, which can award punishments ranging from three months to one year, or will be given summary awards by their respective commanding officers. This involves imprisonment, detention or confinement up to 28 days in military custody or in military lines. The Government intends to retain majority of these persons also in military service.

While desertions had taken place at a number of places like Sri Ganganagar, Pune and Alwar cantonments, the most serious case was of Ramgarh on June 18. Major General Vijay Kumar, General Officer Commanding, MP and Orissa area, had conducted the staff court of inquiry into the series of incidents. This was followed by the recording of summary of evidence.

The Army authorities had recommended to the Government that the errants be punished and then retained in service since majority of the jawans and recruits under training indulged in acts of insubordination and desertion due to emotional upsurge. It was also thought that these persons if sent home may find it hard to find themselves a job and could be exploited by the activists. In most cases the deserters are likely to be shifted to units other than those where the offenses were committed.

Article extracted from this publication >> March 8, 1985