Archive for Unit Citations

Analysing the Hindu Editorial: Murderers in Olive Green

Posted in Army, Counter-insurgency, Indian Army with tags , on 15 June 2010 by indiasecuritymonitor

The Hindu editorial of 13 Jun 10 has come out with a scathing indictment of the recent fake killings where three innocents were passed off as terrorists and killed by the Rashtriya Rifles.

 Northern Army commander Lieutenant-General B.S. Jaswal has promised that the murderers would be prosecuted and punished. That isn’t enough: the case has demonstrated, not for the first time, that there is a serious malaise both in the Indian Army’s counter-insurgency formations and in the internal oversight mechanisms.

The article goes on to quote incidents of 2004, 2006 and the recent one as examples of the malaise. It then goes on the quote the figures of alleged violations committed by the army between 1993 and 2007.

Between 1993 and 2007, the Army’s Human Rights Cell investigated 1,321 allegations of human rights violations in J&K and the North-East. Just 54 cases, it claimed, were supported by fact; in consequence, 115 personnel were punished. But no data on either the investigations or the proceedings that followed has ever been made public. The argument that making such details public will erode military morale makes no sense whatsoever. After all, the actions of rogue military personnel demean the sacrifices of those who put their lives at risk in genuine counter-insurgency operations.

The ISM Team View. The Team is of the view that while the editorial has raised concerns over the issue, it has missed some essential points completely. The Army has made a strategic error in tackling the violence in J&K. This error is to be expected given the lack of instituitional introspection and a strategic culture, both in the Armed Forces and in the successive governments. The error is this: allowing a counter-insurgency campaign to degenerate into an campaign for killing insurgents. This has come about by the Army’s policy of awarding units the Chief of the Army Staff Citations (simply called Unit Citations) based on the number of insurgents that the unit could eliminate (an euphemism for kill). In a steeply pyramidical organisation with immense internal competition, this yardstick of professional competence has an occassional officer, junior commissioned officer or jawan fall victim to the temptation of fake killings.

The Army has actually got an excellent track record in J&K. Though the incidents mentioned above are true, these are one of the few incidents of this nature in the Army. What is appalling is the handling of the these incidents by the Army. There has been no attempt to provide figures or data of incidents, allegations, accusations on a regular basis. Communication by the Army on these issues is virtually negligible. Similarly, for the incidents mentioned above, several of the cases are stuck in the legal quagmire that our judicial systems are well known for. This causes delays which get misrepresented as inaction by the Armed Forces. 

This is what this editorial has left unsaid…that needs to have been said.