Jawan officer scuffle after death

16 May, 2016

In a serious incident of breach of discipline and officer-jawan clash in the Army, four to five jawans roughed up an officer after a fellow jawan collapsed and later died during a route march in an Army infantry unit in eastern Arunachal Pradesh. What angered the others was the fact that the jawan had complained of chest pain before the route march but was “medically examined and found fit” by the doctor on duty, clearly indicating a possible case of medical negligence. The jawan collapsed and died after he was brought to the field ambulance. The Army, which has ordered an inquiry, claimed a few jawans got “emotional and engaged in agitated behaviour, leading to a minor scuffle” and that “no one was injured seriously”. The five jawans got into a scuffle with their officer, who was of the rank of captain. Some reactions on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp went overboard, claiming the situation was like a mutiny, but this was rejected outright by Army sources, who said “it is not a case of any mutiny”. The incident, nevertheless, brought back memories of the horrific officer-jawan clash near Nyoma in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ladakh region in 2012.

“A case of the death of a jawan during routine training activity has taken place in an infantry unit in the Northeast. It is not a case of any mutiny. The jawan complained of chest pain prior to a route march and was checked by the unit medical officer and found fit. The jawan later collapsed during the route march. He was rushed to the field ambulance, where he succumbed. Four to five jawans got emotional at the death (of the jawan), and when being consoled by their adjutant, indulged in agitated behaviour, leading to a minor scuffle. No one was injured seriously. The incident is being investigated as is the practice in all cases of training deaths,” said an Army source. Sources also warned against the designs of some to spread baseless rumours on social media platforms.

The Army is likely to probe the apparent command and control failure that led to such a situation. Observers note that while a few jawans got understandably agitated, their roughing up an officer was a clear case of indiscipline. The Army is likely to probe on what basis the medical officer certified the jawan as fit when he had complained of something as serious as chest pain, after which the jawan participated in the physically-exacting route march. This also raises questions on whether any medical tests were done at all on the unfortunate jawan when he first complained of chest pain, in what appears to be a case of medical negligence that ended in tragedy.