In the first casualty in the Jorhat military operation at surrendered Ulfa militant Surajit Gogoi’s house on December 20, chief of army staff Gen VK Singh has censured Col G Srikumar, then the Commanding Officer of 3 Corps Intelligence and Surveillance Unit (CISU), for lapses in the operation on the basis of a court of inquiry report after considering the Colonel’s reply.
Col G Srikumar, a Sena Medal awardee, has moved the Armed Forces Tribunal, where the matter is pending.
Lt Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, 3 Corps Commander, and his Brigadier General Staff, Brigadier Abhey Krishna, are also facing punitive action from Gen Singh. Col Srikumar is presently posted as Colonel General Staff (staff duty), headquarters 4 RAPID.
The court of inquiry (CoI) was convened on December 29 last year by the HQ Eastern Command to investigate the circumstances under which the operation was conducted at Rowriah in Jorhat, during which army personnel allegedly removed certain items from Gogoi’s house and indulged in procedural irregularities. The CoI report says, “During the said operation, Havildar Sandeep Thapa took away a licensed pistol and a mobile phone of Surajit Gogoi, alias Puna Gogoi, and failed to report the recoveries made during the operation with malafide intention.”
Regarding the procedural violations committed by personnel of 3 CISU, it says, “No police representative accompanied the 3 CISU team in contravention of existing operational instructions. Recoveries made from the house were not declared at police station, Jorhat by preparing a seizure memo and no no-objection certificate was obtained from the house owner. No post-operation situation report was filed in the case.”
General Singh, in his order dated May 18, observed, “Col Srikumar did not properly hand over the unit to Lt Col Dharamvir Singh, second-in-command, 3 CISU, while he proceeded on part of annual leave on December 18 last year. Lt Col Dharamvir Singh was away from the unit on the day of handing/taking over, and Col Srikumar did not devise means to brief the officiating incumbent nor informed him of the impending operation, leaving everything concerning it on the shoulders of the junior officers of the rank of Capt.”
The army chief further observed that before proceeding on leave, Col Srikumar failed to properly advise Capt Rubina Kaur Keer (who led the operation with 14 other army personnel) about the actions to be taken for proper conduct of an important operation and the post-operation follow up actions. He said that Col Srikumar also did not properly guide Capt Rubina Kaur on further post-operation actions when she spoke to him on telephone on December 21.
The army chief said that Col Srikumar preferred to direct her to apprise the BGS (Ops), 3 Corps, which led to the unfortunate incident of Havildar Thapa committing theft of a pistol and a mobile phone and owning up the same only on December 28 upon sustained pressure, which brought disrepute to the army.