The Army has shunted out the officiating Commandant of the Officers Training Academy (OTA), Chennai, after receiving complaints regarding his approach to training woman cadets.
The officer, a Major General, had been posted as Deputy Commandant of OTA, Chennai in May this year and was officiating as Commandant since July.
It is learnt that complaints had been received by the Army about the officer while dealing with the training of woman cadets in the academy and his emphasis on more “hands-on” approach towards activities like their military training and PT.
He is alleged to have encouraged physical contact with woman cadets and there were other issues of passing them in physical tests by allegedly lowering the required standards.
The officer is learnt to have justified his approach by saying that gender equality has to be ingrained in the minds of the cadets at the level of the training academy and that outdated methods of training should be abandoned. He is also said to have told the instructional staff for better training methods to decrease the failure rate among woman cadets in physical activities.
However, it is learnt that there was considerable discontent among the instructors, both men and women, and some woman cadets at the academy regarding the Major General’s approach.
“The matter reached the level of the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Army Training Command (ARTRAC) Lt Gen Raj Shukla, who visited the OTA and personally took stock of the situation,” a senior Army officer revealed on condition of anonymity.
The Army finally decided to act in the matter and has posted the Major General as Chief of Staff of a Corps and another Major General has been posted as the officiating Commandant at OTA.
When contacted, while declining to comment on the issue, a senior officer at Army Headquarters said, “As an organisation, the Army prides itself on providing a safe and secure working environment to all ranks by strictly implementing guidelines listed in various laws enacted by the Parliament as well as the Supreme Court to prevent sexual harassment of soldiers, officers and cadets. The Indian Army practices zero tolerance towards violation of established guidelines and practices and all allegations are promptly investigated and taken to a logical conclusion.”
The Major General in question had earlier faced a court of inquiry in 2014 as a Brigadier when a woman doctor in the USA had levelled charges of unbecoming conduct against him during his tenure at Indian Permanent Mission at UN in New York. However, the Court of Inquiry had cleared his name of the allegations at the time.
The OTA Chennai, which trains cadets for short service commission in the Army, has 80-90 woman cadets under training at any given point of time along with 370-odd male cadets. There are four woman officers who are part of the team of instructors and who are supposed to be dealing closely with the woman cadets.