Colonel K.D. Singh, the former commanding officer of the Gorkha Battalion whose troops had staged fake killings to earn gallantry awards, was severely reprimanded by a general court martial on Tuesday. He will also lose two years of service for pensionary benefits.
In August 2003, the troops of the Fifth Battalion of the Fifth Gorkha Rifles had stage-managed killings in the Siachen Glacier. They posed as dead Pakistani troops and videotaped the fake exercise. The story was first reported in the Hindustan Times in 2004.
Colonel Singh, who was facing trial on four charges relating to the fake killings, was found guilty on two charges. Singh was found guilty of not informing his immediate superior officer of the fake killings in the battalion which he was commanding. The court did not believe Singh's contention that he had apprised his brigade commander, who asked him not to inform the general officer commanding of 3 Infantry Division.
The court martial also found Singh guilty of instituting a glacier fund in his battalion against established rules. He had allegedly collected money to the tune of Rs 3 lakh out of which around Rs 2 lakh had been loaned to the regiment’s “bania” or in-house shopkeeper and financier. The interest was used to provide herbal medications called ‘Arjuna’ and ‘Tulsi’ for his troops in Siachen.
The glacier fund was formed by making officers donate Rs 1,500, junior commissioned officers Rs 1,000, non-commissioned officers Rs 800 and other ranks 500. It was also observed that Singh had made a false statement in this regard on an earlier occasion in legal proceedings in Udaipur.
Singh was found not guilty by the court on the charge that he had forced two riflemen of his battalion to seek premature discharge from military service because he wanted to destroy the evidence regarding the fake killings.
Singh was found not guilty of cancelling a warning issued to Major Surinder Singh allegedly due to ulterior motives. The court agreed with the defence put up by Colonel Singh that the warning had been a vague one and did not refer to the incidents of fake killings. He said the warning was more in the form of counseling as Surinder Singh’s annual confidential report was about to be written.
Surinder Singh, who actually staged the fake killings and later blew the whistle on the scam, has already been cashiered from service and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment.The court martial comprised a brigadier as the presiding officer and six officers of the rank of colonel as members. The verdict and sentence of the trial will now be confirmed by the higher authorities in the army before they are implemented.