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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Punishment, leave denial hit army?

Rahul Singh, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 28, 2013
First Published: 03:29 IST(28/9/2013) | Last Updated: 03:32 IST(28/9/2013)

The army unit attacked by terrorists in Samba near Jammu September 26 may have been struggling with low morale after the infamous officer-jawan spat it witnessed last August, which lead to disciplinary action against 60 soldiers, sources said.

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Officers and jawans of 16 Cavalry, one of the army’s oldest armoured regiments, were involved in a bitter standoff last year triggered by the suicide of a jawan who had allegedly been denied leave.  

An army source said, “Troop morale can sink due to such incidents.”

An army probe into the officer-jawan clash had recommended action against four officers of the regiment, including its commanding officer Col MS Prakash. The services of five jawans were also terminated.

Action was also taken against eight junior commissioned officers and four jawans, while 39 jawans were shunted out of the unit.

“An undercurrent of bitterness could have been there, despite the reorganisation and change of leadership,” the army source said.

As part of the unit’s restructuring Col Avin Uthaiya was brought in as the CO of the unit and Lieutenant Col Bikramjeet Singh as his deputy this year.

But the strike on Thursday killed Singh while Uthaiya survived gunshot wounds to his chest.

A senior army official admitted that the regiment had a troubled past, “but it was on its way to recovery after the shake-up in May.”
Meanwhile, former army chief Gen VK Singh advocated the need to review the November 2003 ceasefire pact in face of the surge in cross-border infiltration and firings.

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