Indian military’s perversions and aberrations
Indian Army has been rocked by series of indiscipline and corruption cases vis-a-vis land, liquor, sex, and other scams involving even General officers commanding. A Court of Inquiry (CoI) has blamed as many as 56 personnel of Indian Armed Forces including five officers for scuffle between officers and Jawans of an artillery regiment, which took place on 10th May 2012 at Nyoma, SE Ladakh. The CoI has recommended disciplinary action against 16 personnel including the regiment’s commanding officer, second-in-command and three other officers for failure of command and control, assault, indiscipline and other lapses while administrative action against 40 other personnel for their role in the incident. In another such incident Lt. Colonel Ajay Chaudhary was arrested for smuggling 24-crore worth of illegal drugs to Myanmar this month.
There is a possibility that stressful environment prevailing in armed forces of India is the reason for such occurrences. However, military personnel are accused of moral turpitude and gross misconduct as well. Reports abound that India’s security forces use torture and rape as a weapon to punish, intimidate, humiliate and degrade the victims in Kashmir and elsewhere in India. The pattern of Army’s misconduct was also observed when contingent of Indian army performed duties as UN peacekeeping mission abroad. In Congo, army personnel had raped women that resulted in unlawful pregnancies. Twelve officers and thirty nine soldiers were probed in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, India, for sexually abusing the local women and for having fathered children while on UN peacekeeping mission in Congo in 2008. UN Commission found DNA evidence of children born to Congo women, having distinct Indian features. UN authorities are putting pressure on Indian Government to investigate the issue. The Indian soldiers had exploited women of Congo, and sexual abuse cases reached to hundreds. These girls and women were raped either through coercion or by taking advantage of hunger to provide food items and Indian-made cosmetics.
UN authorities ordered DNA tests and asked Indian government for legal proceedings against these officers and soldiers. In March 2008, three officers were charged with sexual abuse of a local woman while on a holiday in South Africa. However, there is no parallel to the atrocities perpetrated on Kashmiris in Indian Held Kashmir where Indian soldiers’ stories of rape and murder are very common. In order to suppress the freedom movement in IOK Indian Army used religious prejudice and hatred against Muslims while using rape as a weapon against Kashmiri women, whereas the Indian authorities turned a blind to their heinous crimes. Hence, the habitual criminals not only got away with their crime against Muslim women in IOK but also got promotions and postings of their choices. On 29th May 2011, a complete shutdown was observed in Shopian town in Indian occupied Kashmir to mark the second anniversary of rape and murder of two Kashmiri women, Aasiya and Neelofar by Indian soldiers.
Nevertheless, some human rights organizations have been exposing Indian soldiers and officers involved in sex scandals and rapes. The Indian government had started crackdown against Kashmiris in the disputed territory of Kashmir in January 1990, after Kashmiris had started armed struggle in 1989. Rape by Indian security forces most often occurs during crackdowns, cordon-and-search operations during which men are held for identification in parks or schoolyards while security forces search their homes. In these situations, the security forces frequently engage in collective punishment against the civilian population by assaulting residents and burning their homes. Rape has also occurred frequently during reprisal attacks on civilians. Women who are the victims of rape are often stigmatised, and their testimony and integrity impugned. Social attitudes which cast the woman and not her attacker, as the guilty party often enjoys clout with the judiciary, making rape cases difficult to prosecute and leaving women unwilling to press charges.
Because of widespread disaffection due to atrocities perpetrated by the army and inept policies of Indian government, law and order situation in all 13 Naxal affected states such as Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, western Orissa and Bihar is hopeless. India faces insurgencies in Nagaland, Mizoram, Assam, Bodoland, Manipur and Tripura also where it is using heavy-handed methods and use of brutal force to quell the unrest, which fact has been censured by human rights organizations including Amnesty International. India has egregious record of dealing with its neighbours, but it considers Pakistan as a great obstacle in its way of extending hegemony over other countries of the region; which is why it does not let any opportunity go waste to malign Pakistan. Having said that, India’s lust for big power status clouds the prospects of unity amongst the South Asian nations. India, therefore, has to give practical demonstration that it will deal with other member-countries on the basis of equal sovereignty.
With the weak Indian government gearing up to win forthcoming elections, its control on an over-ambitious coterie of war mongering Army Generals and hawkish political leaders is eroding fast. Continuation of hostility along LoC, especially when the new civilian government in Pakistan is at the helm seems intriguing. Pakistan is confronting challenges to its economy, spectre of terrorism and militancy and law and order in Karachi. Balochistan is also in the throes of violence. Against this backdrop, India is also trying to take advantage of deployment of Pakistan army on Pak-Afghan border to check the movements of terrorists between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Their aim is to keep Pakistan embroiled in a security dilemma and incite it into arms race so that it could not revive its economy. The process of talks or the back door diplomacy is not being given a chance because Indian Army Generals are against reconciliation and friendly relationship as desired by the government of Pakistan. In January 2013 also, clashes between Indian and Pakistani soldiers on the LoC had stirred tension between the two countries.