NEW DELHI: Defence Minister A K Antony Saturday voiced concern over incidents of face off between officers and jawans but said that the armed forces are capable of handling them on their own.
“Each incident is a matter of concern to me but armed forces are better trained to handle such situations. They are handling it in their own way. Today also I had a brief discussion with the army chief and they are handling it,” he said on the sidelines of a function here.
The Minister was asked about the three major incidents of brawl between officers and jawans in the army, the latest involving personnel of 16 Cavalry unit in Samba in Jammu and Kashmir after a jawan committed suicide.
In May, similar situation had erupted in 226 artillery regiment in Ladakh and in a separate case, officers and jawans of 45 Cavalry unit had fought with each other in June last year in Gurdaspur in Punjab.
Court of Inquiry (CoI) in all the three incidents is under progress.
Asked about suicide cases in the armed forces, Antony said, “Even if there is one suicide in armed forces, I am always pained. Compared to the past, the number of suicides and fratricides in armed forces are slightly reduced. “But I am not happy as even suicide by one soldier is a matter of pain to me. But over the years, we have been able to reduce the numbers gradually,” he said.
Asked about the increasing Chinese pressure along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Finger Area in Sikkim, the Defence Minister dismissed it as an “aberration” saying the overall situation all along the boundary was peaceful.
“It is not a new issue. Sometimes it happens like that as there is no officially-accepted points on entire border. There are seven eight disputed points in this border. In these disputed areas, both sides are patrolling. We have our own patrolling and they have their’s,” Antony said.
The Minister said sometimes “unfortunate incidents take place but these are aberrations only and not a regular thing. Now we have recently set up a border management mechanism. That is also now functioning very effectively. By and large, India China border is very peaceful.”
On the high-level committee formed by the Prime Minister to look into pay and pension anomalies of the armed forces, he said, “Our Government is very sensitive and sympathetic to the welfare of the armed forces. The Committee under the Cabinet Secretary is discussing the matter. I hope for a satisfactory report at the earliest.”
Asked if the demand for representation of armed forces in the Committee has been accepted, the Defence Minister said, “the Committee has twice invited the armed forces chiefs. First the Navy Chief as Chairman, Chiefs of Staffs Committee and then recently all the three chiefs went there to give their views.”
The armed forces have pointed out several anomalies in their pay and pensions and have demanded the elevation of all Lt Gen-rank officers in to a higher pay scale and ‘One Rank One Pension’ for the ex-servicemen.