An Army Major General who was due for promotion to the rank of lieutenant general after his role in the Myanmar operations, could soon face the court martial for allegedly molesting a captain and ‘forcibly kissing her’ while discussing official work at home late one evening.
The case comes as a rude reality check for the military establishment in pushing for a wider role for women officers in the armed forces.
According to the military court proceedings, the accused was posted as the inspector general of Assam Rifles’ Northern Zone in Kohima when on October 19 he called the complainant to his house to discuss the court martial case of another officer.
The female officer was handling duties of the judge advocate general (JAG) branch which looks after the legal matters of the three services and was posted in the northeast region at the time of the alleged incident.
‘After the major general was done with the official work, he allegedly asked the captain to give him a parting kiss and forced himself on her to kiss her on the cheeks and lips,’ reads the proceeding notes.
Mail Today has a copy of the proceedings. According to the complaint, even after the lady officer left his house in a huff, the officer tried to harass her by frequently calling and messaging through his personal staff to meet him before he left the station for another posting.
The major general, whose identity is not being disclosed by Mail Today, could not be contacted for his comments but the army spokesperson acknowledged the case and said an investigation is under way.
‘No comments can be offered on investigations which are still in progress, as it may prejudice the investigation process and may undeservedly undermine reputation of individual concerned,’ the spokesman said.
Senior officers in Ranchi told Mail Today that after the complaint was lodged, the major general and his wife reached out to the lady officer to apologise.
‘They requested her to withdraw the complaint as it would spoil his career of over 30 years in the army,’ said one of the officers related to the proceedings, on the condition of anonymity.
Some senior officers of the region also wanted to keep the matter under wraps.
However, the lady officer, who belongs to a family of lawyers, stood her grounds and went ahead with legal proceedings.
Army sources said keeping in view of the seriousness of the complaint, the accused was attached with the 17 Mountain Strike Corps at Ranchi for’hearing of charges’ by the higher authorities had complained about the offense.
‘No court of inquiry, which is a fact-finding exercise, was ordered into the matter as the complaint was serious and straightaway ‘hearing of charge’ was ordered,’ the sources said.
After completing the initial procedures, the officer is now going through ‘summary of evidence’, one step before an army personnel faces a ‘general court martial’, if indicted in the proceedings.
The sources said certain senior officers posted in that region also wanted the case to be hushed up but the lady officer stood her ground.
‘The young captain was helped immensely by another lady officer, chief legal officer of Assam Rifles, Colonel Leena Gaurav who was in support of filing a case against the erring officer,’ army sources said.
The summary of evidence is taking place under major general ST Upasani, the chief of staff of the 17 Corps, and both the lady officer and the accused have made their representations before the military court.
Several witnesses will soon be summoned there. There are four officers of the rank of major general posted with the Assam Rifles, a 66,400-strong central armed police force under the Ministry of Home Affairs that is responsible for peacetime management of the Indo-Myanmar border and undertaking internal security duties in the northeast.
The accused officer is from the infantry and belongs to the Rajputana Rifles regiment.