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Revamp after rape charge

New Delhi, Oct. 10: The elite presidential body guards may be in for an overhaul after four of its members were arrested on the charge of raping a college girl in a park here on Monday.

Though the culprits are in police custody awaiting trial, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, who is the armed forces’ commander-in-chief, has directed the army brass to ensure that such incidents do not recur.

With the prestige of the exclusive group of 6-ft men in uniforms severely dented, the commando-trained guards might now be subjected to thorough verification in the light of the deviant behaviour of the four, sources said.

Harpreet Singh, Satinder Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Manish Kumar were in uniform when they committed the rape.

The words of Kalam may prompt Army Headquarters to initiate measures to revamp the elite group, which consists of 161 guards, two junior commissioned officers and four officers, including the commandant of colonel rank.

Army chief General .C. Vij himself had yesterday condemned the incident as a “blot” on the force. So from now, the officers of the group could find it difficult to avoid accountability for their subordinates’ misdeeds.

According to sources, at least one junior commissioned officer should have accompanied the four guards as more than three of them were moving in a group. The court of inquiry ordered by Army Headquarters yesterday may look into this fact.

The commandant, Colonel Bhawani Singh, could find himself on the way out once the court of inquiry fixes responsibility.

“Ultimately, the commandant is responsible for the disciplined conduct of the men under his command,” a source said.

If the four accused are convicted in a civil court, they will be stripped of their decorations and dismissed from service.

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