New Delhi, Oct. 9 (PTI): Calling it a “blot” on the name of his force, army chief General .C. Vij today condemned the rape of a college girl by four soldiers of the presidential guards here on Monday and promised “most stern action” once the legal process begins.
Vij told reporters on the sidelines of an NCC function here that army action would have been severe if the crime had been committed in an army area. “Then we could have invoked the army act. But in the present circumstances, as the area of the crime is a civilian area, we have to await the legal process to get under way,” he said.
His feelings were shared by the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Madhavendra Singh, who was present at the function. Minister of state for defence Chaman Lal Gupta, who presided over the annual NCC conference, said such “shameful” incidents had to be condemned and stern action taken under law.
Officials said that under the army act, no action can be taken against personnel below the rank of Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) or their salaries or perks stripped till a court of law convicts them. However, if a JCO or a person of a superior rank is accused of such a crime, he could be immediately placed under suspension and stripped of all privileges.
Under the orders of the army chief, the commandant of the presidential guards, Colonel Bhawani Singh, held a parade of the 161 Cavalry to establish the identity of the accused.
President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has expressed serious concern over the involvement of four soldiers in the rape of a college girl.
“The President has expressed serious concern over the incident and called for tough measures to be taken to ensure that such incidents do not recur,” a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said today.