Last year, the Chinese army trespasses a major part of the border area in Arunachal Pradesh. In Kashmir, the Pakistani army has been shelling the borders and in Assam, Irom Charu Sharmila has completed 12 years of fasting to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or AFSPA, which is being misused by army personnel to harass civilians.
A new finding of misdemeanour among senior army officials is the unauthorized construction of golf courses in areas marked for building training centres. According to a Parliamentary report, exclusive golf courses for senior officers have been built on valuable government land. Altogether, the army has built 90 “prohibited” golf courses across the country on land designated for various purposes. The public accounts committee report has stipulated that the defence ministry must hold an inquiry into the matter and the officers involved must be brought to book.
It was also revealed that the clubs were rented to civilians for functions such as weddings, parties and receptions. Also, membership to the club was sold to civilians and foreign diplomats. However, the funds generated from these sources have not been declared to the government.
Some of these clubs, such has the 18-hole Delhi army course at DhaulaKuan are very reputed. The DhualaKuan Golf Course has mature trees, ponds, a club house, professional golf shopconcession, pitch and putt practice area and a floodlit driving range. Foreign players are charged around INR 2000 for playing on weekdays and around Rs. 1200 for weekdays, while serving officers pay around INR 50 for the same.
As per the MP reports, commercial charges and use of vast tracts of defence ministry land for activities that are not deemed as military activity, sport or training amount to “gross misuse”. The army chief very conveniently listed ‘golf’ as a sport in 2004 to justify this wanton spending on the courses. The Report questioned his decision and expressed shock on the revenue collected from allowing access to civilians was not credited to the government account.
India is constantly facing security threats from three of its neighbouring countries – Pakistan, China and Bangladesh. The army has done a commendable job in keeping the forces at bay frequently and the political class has been showing a lax attitude towards supporting the army. It has been rendering praiseworthy service by protecting India against external threats, even in remote locations like Siachen, which are inaccessible to humans. On the other hand, the top officials of army have been exploiting their position of power and misusing the provisions that come with the post.
The army is respected for the services and sacrifices it makes for the nation’s goodwill, however, this abuse of power will shake the foundation of all the values it projects and holds.