Army defends officer accused of damaging crop, contradicts FIR

Army defends officer accused of damaging crop, contradicts FIR

Two days after a case was registered against an Army Colonel and 30 soldiers for unlawful armed assembly and damaging crop over a land dispute near Pune, the Army defended the officer and contradicted the contents of the FIR filed against him.

The FIR in question was filed by one Monika Ganesh Gade at Khed police station on June 23. She accused Colonel Kedar Gaikwad and the soldiers of entering her family’s farmland in Gulani village on June 22 and damaging the crop.

However, the Army, in a statement given to The Indian Express, said the soldiers in question were from an “ammunition collection party” from Hyderabad which had halted at the native village of Colonel Gaikwad, their Commanding Officer.

“As per standard procedure of Army, the ammunition collection party had an armed escort, which continued to remain near the loaded ammunition vehicles, which were parked outside the village for the entire duration. The remaining party only moved for lunch to the house of Col Kedar Gaikwad, which was 500 meters away. After the lunch, the party left for Nashik. No altercation or interaction reportedly took place between the villagers and the Army personnel…,”the Army statement said.

Army officials said an internal inquiry will be conducted into the allegations against the officer and the soldiers. “While it is yet to be determined who will conduct the inquiry, the effort will be find out whether the officer used the Army soldiers for the family dispute,” they said.

Sunil Bharne, a member of the family involved in land dispute said, “Why would we lie and why would police register a complaint with these many details, if it was a lie?”

Inspector A D Chaudhari, the in-charge of Khed police station said, “At this juncture, we are probing all aspects, including what exactly the land dispute was. We are also probing what the Army officer and soldiers were doing in the farm…There will also be investigation into clues like some images and videos available with the complainant’s side.”