An army inquiry into a clash between officers and jawans of an artillery unit in the sensitive Ladakh sector last year has found 168 soldiers guilty of seriously breaching discipline, in what was one of the worst episodes of misconduct in the force.
In a first, more than one-third of the 226 Field Artillery Regiment, including its commanding officer (CO), two majors and a captain, will face severe punitive action that could range from imprisonment to court martial.
The soldiers who will face disciplinary action also include 17 junior commissioned officers and 147 jawans. They have been attached to various units in and around Jammu for further trial proceedings to determine punishment.
Four soldiers, including the unit's commanding officer and his deputy, were injured in the brawl between officers and jawans in Ladakh's Nyoma sector on May 10, 2012.
A jawan misbehaved with the wife of a major, triggering a violent face-off. The officer's wife reported the incident to the CO's wife, who, in turn, informed the unit's officiating deputy (a major).
The jawan sustained injuries after the unit's deputy along with another major and a captain manhandled him.
The situation took an ugly turn after rumours that the jawan had died from the beating, creating a rift between the officers and other ranks.
The commanding officer tried to defuse the situation, but the jawans got further agitated when they realised that he was accompanied by the deputy, who was rumoured to have killed their colleague.
The two officers and two jawans sustained injuries in the free for all that ensued.
"The court of inquiry examined 216 witnesses before recommending punishment," a senior officer said.