India, Tajikistan Soldiers Trade Blows At Indian Military Academy; Enquiry Ordered

Indian and Tajikistan Gentlemen Cadets (GCs) undergoing training at the Indian Military Academy in Dehradun allegedly clashed multiple times in February and March this year, The Indian Express reported on June 9.

The incident has come as a huge embarrassment for the two countries, which maintain close defense ties and conduct joint military exercises.

The Indian Army has now ordered disciplinary action against four Indian and six Tajik Cadets and issued show-causes. A battalion commander of the rank of Colonel is among the staff members who will face disciplinary action.

The report says three incidents took place at IMA on February 24, March 2, and March 3. The episode has come as an embarrassment for the two friendly countries, forcing the Ambassador of Tajikistan and the Defence Attache to visit the IMA.

Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to study and schedule border demining – The Defense Post
File Image: Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to study and schedule border demining – Via: The Defense Post

A Court of Inquiry into these incidents was held on March 10. The probe raised questions about the conduct of officers of the Cariappa Battalion and Hajipir Company. Lt Gen Yogendra Dimri, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Central Command, issued a show-cause notice to the officers concerned for awarding ‘censure’ as administrative punishment, which will be documented in the official records of the officers.

The Cariappa Battalion Commander, an officer of the rank of Colonel, has also been blamed for his display of “lack of sensitivity and comprehension regarding the ramifications and long-term effects” during the three incidents, The Indian Express said.

The officer has reportedly denied these charges against him in the Court of Inquiry and also said that he was being unjustly blamed for the misconduct of Tajik cadets.

Further allegations against him include “inadequate understanding of the traditions, customs, traits, psyche and emotional make-up of Tajikistan GCs”.

The officer has also been accused of wrongful allegations that the Tajik GCs carried iron rods, wooden planks, sticks, and stones on March 3 to attack their Indian counterparts as these allegations were not supported by any eyewitness or evidence.

The Battalion Commander has also been accused of failing to intervene on time and check these incidents. He has also been blamed for failing to ensure that there is proper communication between GCs, Directing Staff Body, and the permanent staff.

Indian cadets were allegedly attacked by 21 Foreign GCs from various battalions on March 3 in the wake of a clash in which a Tajik GC was assaulted and had to be taken to the Section Hospital for treatment. The foreign GCs allegedly attacked the Indian cadets even though they were addressed by the Commandment of IMA on March 2.

“The IMA at Dehradun stands tall amongst its peers and has a rich legacy since its raising in 1932. It commands great respect across the world for its stellar training standards, discipline benchmarks”, said an Indian Army spokesperson told The Indian Express.

The spokesperson added that after the required screening and approval, strict disciplinary actions have been taken against six foreign GCs and four Indian GCs for violating the discipline instructions in the IMA.

India-Tajikistan Defense Ties

Tajikistan hosts India’s first overseas military base at Farkhor. The base allows proximity to events unfolding in Afghanistan but also a check on Pakistani activities, according to security experts.

Kyrgyzstan is also a key partner in the counterterrorism domain. O April 16, India and Kyrgyzstan began the eighth installment of their two weeks Joint Special Forces Exercise “Khanjar.”

The military exercise was first conducted in Nahan, India, way back in 2011. The two-week drills focus largely on high-altitude and mountain operations, in the context of a counterterrorism mission, according to The diplomat.

Tajikistan is also vital in India’s Connect Central Asia policy. India recently proposed connecting these countries to its Chabahar port in Iran.