HR and Vigilance in Army

March 18, 2019 By Lt. General P.C. Katoch (Retd) Photo(s): By Indian Army
The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army

 

Indian Army is undergoing restructuring and reorganisation

Two surprises emerged in media recently with reports that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the plan of 'Reorganization of the Army Headquarters'. These are surprises because while there were plenty reports about the various studies on the issue being undertaken, and deliberations at Army Headquarters, there was no mention of these issues though many other details of the proposed reorganisation were made public. The first surprise is that an officer from the Indian Police Service (IPS) is to be posted soon at Army Headquarters to assist the Army in dealing with human rights (HR) issues, for which, a formal notification is expected soon. News says a new Additional Directorate General (ADG) of Human Rights (HR) is being created which will be commanded by a Major General rank Army officer. The rank of the IPS officer being posted to this ADG HR has not been specified but he would probably be of two-star rank (like the ADG HR) or maybe one-star rank. Whatever the case, he will certainly be drawing higher pay and allowances than the ADG and can be expected to officiate in place of the ADG HR when the incumbent ADG is away, on leave, or even when not posted. The ADG HR is to function directly under the Vice Chief of Army Staff. The explanation given is that the IPS officer is to facilitate necessary coordination with other organisations and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on HR issues at hand. Until now, the HR in Army Headquarters was being looked after by the HR Cell (HRC) established under the Adjutant General's (AG's) Branch in 1993, which was the right place. What coordination is the IPS officer going to do with MHA and for that matter with which unspecified "other organisations", when FIRs are being filed against soldiers by concerned states and law and order is a State subject? Obviously this is a ruse to induct IPS officers in Army establishments and this may be tip of the iceberg planned by the 'deep state' within MoD, to which the Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat has blithely acquiesced, as he did in the case of opening of Army Cantonments and many other issues. It also indicates that Rawat lacks confidence in his own officers in dealing with HR issues. How an IPS officer is better experienced to handle HR issues and is the HR record of the IPS any better than the Army? It may be recalled that before Mehbooba Mufti, then CM J&K commenced filing of FIRs against Army personnel forced to open fire in self defence, she took the concurrence of Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. For that matter, if any IPS officer assisting Army with HR was required at all, it should have been in J&K, at Udhampur or Srinagar, not Army HQ. Knowing government's suspicion of the military and MoD's diabolical ways, it is quite likely that more IPS officers will get posted at various levels of the Army – same as political commissars in the PLA, keeping tabs or putting it more bluntly snooping on the Army.

After all the opening of military hospitals to civilians was announced via media first in Uttrakhand (home state of Rawat and NSA Doval) as test case, two months before opening up all military hospitals. It is a shame that government is focusing on posting IPS officers to Army, but has no guts to reorganise the MoD and is not moving to integrate the Army, Navy and Air Force. It is well known that the IPS holds the jugular (secrets) of politicians and bureaucrats by virtue of manning intelligence and investigation agencies. Placing of the ADG HR under the Vice Chief but Directorate General of Military Operations under a Deputy Chief indicates Army's warped priorities. Possibly this was done on behest of MoD to give access to the IPS officer to highest levels in Army. Logically, the Human Rights Cell in AG's Branch should have been upgraded to ADG HR. It is the ADG of Military Operations Special Forces (ADGMO SF) that should have been brought directly under the Army Chief. Giving undue preference to ADG HR also indicates a defensive mentality. The second surprise is establishment of a new Additional Director General (ADG), Vigilance, which too will be commanded by a Major General rank Army officer. ADG (Vigilance) is to function directly under the Army Chief. Army already has ADG Discipline and Vigilance (ADG DV), which has been functioning well. For any other specific additional vigilance of sensitive nature, the Director General of Military Intelligence (DGMI) can always be tasked.

Surely this move has not been imitated pursuant to report that Rs 210 crore of Army insurance funds are 'sunk' in IL&FS bonds, which could have been better monitored by military intelligence, than the proposed set up. Is the aim to establish a personal Gestapo under the Army Chief? This may well be the case with expansion of Military Police to create a 'Vigilance Investigation Unit' under the ADG (Vigilance). Interestingly, NDA had ordered in year 2002 that Special Forces personnel on protection duties of Army Chief, Army Commanders and former Chiefs be reverted to units and these duties taken over by Military Police. Army's response then was that the Military Police is being expanded and these duties will be taken over once reorganisation is completed. 17 years have passed since and we are expanding the Military Police for vigilance with ADG (Vigilance) under the Army Chief – SnoopDog of the boss? On one hand we talk of creating lean and mean Army, but on the other hand we have no compunctions about creating such additional organisations? The script may have been from the MoD but where is Army's logic, and where is it heading with such pusillanimity?