Four armymen, including a colonel and his deputy, were hospitalised after a free-for-all involving the jawans and the officers of an artillery unit in the sensitive Ladakh sector on Thursday.
Rattled by the rare instance of breakdown in military discipline, the army Friday ordered a probe but described the incident that occurred at a firing range as a “minor scuffle”.
It rubbished reports that the fight was triggered by a jawan, who allegedly molested an officer’s wife. It also denied that there was a virtual mutiny in the 226 Field Regiment, with the jawans taking control of the armoury.
The army said there was no truth to the claim that the commanding officer (a colonel), said to be backing the jawans, was beaten up by the major whose wife was allegedly molested.
While the exact sequence of events is not known, a senior army officer said some misunderstanding between an officer and a jawan led to the confrontation near Nyoma, 150 km from Leh and barely 20 km from the Line of Actual Control between India and China.
“A minor scuffle took place between officers and troops of a unit on the night of May 10/11. Few minor injuries were suffered,” an army spokesperson said.
He said the situation was under control.
The general officer commanding of 3 Division of which the 226 Field Regiment is a part rushed in to defuse the situation. Army chief General VK Singh briefed defence minister AK Antony on the clash, also being viewed as a breakdown of leadership at the unit level.
"If officers and jawans exchange blows, there's certainly a crisis of leadership and character in the army. We need major reforms in leadership and training for officers and jawans," a retired three-star general said on condition of anonymity.