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Axe cloud on officer

New Delhi, Jan. 27: The navy is considering dismissing an officer and penalising three others after their posts on social networking website Facebook disclosed their locations.

The officers were based on warships, at least two of which were patrolling the Arabian Sea. A source in the navy has ruled out espionage as the motive for disclosing the locations.

One of the officers was a commander (equivalent to an army lieutenant colonel). A board of inquiry in the western naval command sent its recommendation to navy headquarters in Delhi earlier this week.

The armed forces routinely ask their soldiers to desist from disclosing information in social networking sites that may give away their location, their units, their ranks and duties or indeed their profession.

But an increase in sea duty for the navy since the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai has meant that officers and sailors are away from their families and friends longer than they used to be and are often under emotional pressure to stay in touch.

The navy itself has an official page on Facebook that says it “is managed by officers/kin associated with the Indian Navy and We believe in strictly maintaining the privacy and posting content with regard to National Safety taken into Interest. Any Post/Link which We may feel is a threat to the safety of the Country will be Removed immediately.”

The Navy Wives Welfare Association too has a page. Women are not permitted on active duty in warships of the Indian Navy.

Dismissal from service, as recommended for an officer, would require the approval of the defence ministry on the recommendation of the chief of naval staff.