Thursday, December 08, 2005

Anjali Gupta vs. Indian Air Force

Don't even think about claiming sexual harassment if you're a woman in the Indian Air Force. First, your charges will be dismissed. Then, you'll be put in jail, "for your own protection." And finally, you'll be court-martialled on trivial charges, and convicted by a jury that, to add insult to injury, includes two senior women officers (one of whom is Air Marshal Padmavati Bandyopadhyay, the highest-ranking female officer in the Indian military).

Here's the back-story from Mumbai's Mid-Day:
“She refused to play ball with senior officers who wanted her to ‘co-operate’ with them in various ways including participating in collecting bribes for recruitment of cooks and others. (Apparently the going rate for a cook in the force is Rs two lakh),” he reveals.

Jitender claims Gupta was forever being harassed for illegal favours. “The more she refused to join them at parties in the night, the more she was harassed.

In fact, Anjali had earlier complained to her seniors about the drunken behavior of Sq Ldr Choudhary who was even issued a Form10 by the IAF.

Every time she complained to higher authorities about malpractices in her department, she would be moved to another department. She was moved around 6-7 times in the last one year,” he states.(Mid-Day)

And here's today's news:

An Indian Air Force court martial has recommended that Flying Officer Anjali Gupta be cashiered from service. Gupta and her family contend that she is being framed because she brought charges of sexual harassment against superior officers and because she blew the whistle on corrupt deals.

In armed forces’ parlance, “cashiering” is a more severe punishment than “dismissal”. A cashiered officer is denied the privileges of rank and post-service benefits. The five-member jury’s proposal in the court martial headed by Group Captain Ganesh in Bangalore has to be confirmed by Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi.

The court martial has found Gupta guilty of five of seven charges brought against her. She was charged on five counts of financial embezzlement (amounting to Rs 1,080), insubordination, indiscipline, irregularity and conduct unbecoming of an officer. (Calcutta Telegraph)

Oh no, she embezzled 1080 Rupees! (approx. US $25). And let's see, insubordination (because she says her superior officers were hitting on her?) and indiscipline (because she refused to go along?).

If the Air Force can explain why they found her sexual harassment charges to be false, they really need to do so ASAP. Otherwise, this case case stinks to the high heavens.


anangbhai said...

Holy Shit she's a whistleblower and she's still alive?
This doesn't surprise me. I mean stuff like this goes on all the time in military circles here in America. They wiill pay off, courtmartial, fire and discipline anyone who rocks the boat and in order to present a "clean" image. If you have friends upstairs you'll probably be transferred, like the new Chief of Staff at Westpoint, Mike "No Combat" Colpo who's been in the USMC for 20 years yet has never seen combat.
Or that other general in the news who was fired because Rumsfeld didn't like him.
I've heard tales of murders being turned into suicides so...
Not surprising at all.

?! said...

Take a break.

It's a case where somebody has been accused of being venal and she in turn is accusing them of sexual harassment.

Just because she's a woman, everybody jumps to conclusions. In the case of MSM, it is understandable. Sells.

If a gent had been involved, the whole thing would've been unnoticed.

Leave the law to take its own course. You are not adjudging Anjali Gupta to be innocent until proven guilty. You are accusing the Air Force of guilt unless proven innocent.

As for the Air Force being a law unto itself, it is simply false. Admiral Bhagwat's successful and later unsuccessful lawsuits prove it. Apparently, from the article itself, there is an automatic review by a higher officer. A difference from a court where you have to prefer an appeal.

Unlike the MSM who have commercial compulsions, could you choose the "harder right instead of the easier wrong?"

Amardeep said...

It's a case where somebody has been accused of being venal and she in turn is accusing them of sexual harassment.

Uh, you've got the order dead-wrong. Go and actually read the articles. She'd complained of sexual harassment multiple times before she even got a hearing.

The court-martial against her was initiated only after her charges against the Air Force were introduced.

You're right that we don't know everything about what happened in this case (that's why I said the Air Force needs to make public some indication of why they don't believe her).

I'm willing to be proven wrong. As it stands right now, however, the order of events is strongly suggestive.

?! said...

Err... where did you get the info about the order being dead wrong? None of the links in your post say so.

BTW, any legal gent in India would tell you that a court martial is only the result of a Board of Enquiry. Depending on time n space, this would be a month to 3-6 month period.

Which actually tilts the balance in favor of the Air Force.

However, as I said, my point isn't about the actual merits of the case. It is about pre-judging just because it is so conveniently both anti-Establishment and "feminist". Not to mention Davidesque.

"I'm willing to be proven wrong. As it stands right now, however, the order of events is strongly suggestive."

Hullo ? Would you convict an individual on "suggestive" ( actually assumed) evidence as readily as you do the State?

Amardeep said...

Actually, the Mid-Day article does say that she filed an FIR against Sq Leader Chaudhury in February. The GCM (court-martial) was only initiated in April.

?! said...

" a court martial is only the result of a Board of Enquiry. Depending on time n space, this would be a month to 3-6 month period".

Seems touch n go. But to belabor a point

"Would you convict an individual on "suggestive" ( actually assumed) evidence as readily as you do the State?"

Amardeep said...

I'm not convicting anyone of anything here on this blog.

Rather, I'm raising questions about something that looks fishy.

Anonymous said...

Comment posted at desipundit.
This is a ridiculous post. Please check before posting links to such posts whether the series of events was true on which they are based. While accepting that some arm-chair pajama clad bloggers without the resources of media professionals will commit mistakes, Desipundit bears a higher standard of responsibility due to its self-appointed role as a filter for the ‘Best in Indian Blogsphere’.

The posts pretend that the officer in question was court-martialled in response to the sexual harassment charges. Bullshit. She made the allegations after a series of disciplinary/unprofessional conduct reports from her superiors finally leading to the court martial.

I am appalled by the lack of knowledge demonstrated both by the bloggers and Desipundit in this case. Linking to such posts will not add to the long-term credibility of Desi-Pundit.

?! said...

"Don't even think about claiming sexual harassment if you're a woman in the Indian Air Force. First, your charges will be dismissed. Then, you'll be put in jail, "for your own protection." And finally, you'll be court-martialled on trivial charges"

You didn't raise a question, Amardeep. You found the AF guilty. And emblazoned it at the start of your post.

"Oh, said the piggy
that's not fair
Ho said the engine driver
I don't care"

manisha lakhe said...

look, am not qualified to make either a legal or journalistic comment, but i was visiting the af station where ms gupta served, and some of her colleagues (male officers) simply rolled their eyes when i mentioned her name ('ugh!jaane de yaar!')and had to be persuaded to open up and speak off record...

they collectively hated how women cadets/officers got away with really pathetic gender based excuses ('cannot fly, i have cramps!')('how can i do 50 push ups!'), and the cousin who is an instructor said that the boys get verbally abused ('bastard' being the most common abuse) but they were not allowed even the instinctive 'fuck!' if the women cadets made errors while flying...

besides, ms gupta did not show up for court dates, offered very parveen babi-ish excuses of 'i'm going to kill myself', even claimed headaches as reason for not showing up for hearings...did you miss that bit of the news?

i understand it's fashionable to damn institutions, and am not even saying the reasons like embezzlement are not ridiculous, i am only saying we instinctively choose to sympathize with the small guy...

you and the rest of the world will never hear about the very pretty girl cadet plotting to malign her instructor with two other women cadets simply because he insisted they 'attend early morning PT' and they couldn't carry out the plot simply because the conversation was inadvertantly taped by a cell phone...

i don't know if i want to be counted as a woman when i hear such things...but then as the lawyers will say, 'it's hearsay'

SikhsRus said...

In all this chaos, I wonder who is protecting India if officers are bunch of drukards, alcoholics, swingers etc. I think British were smart to realize the potential of Sikhs in armed forces. Every Sikh had to be an Amritdhari Sikh to join forces. That way they could not drink, smoke or do other intoxicants. To me, the Indian forces have no moral or ethical responsibilty left them anymore and just copying everything from the west. No originality of their own at all. It is a sad thing for me to see, especially being born and raised in India, but now looking as an outsider from the U.S.

Anonymous said...

I am a serving lady officer in air force for the last 12 years . What stopped her from raising her outcry for justice, why did she wait for a court martial to be convened. Sexual harrasment was a fall out of her defence. It adds a spectrum of colour to otherwise a normal court martial. It is sad that the law made to protect women is mis utilised.It is how you project that you get treated.

Anonymous said...

I am an ex IAF pilot and officer in the US . You comment has nailed it on the head. It is a shame that laws that are made to protect women are misused

Anonymous said...

I know guys who have worked with her, both her sub-ordinates as well as her superiors in rank, and even people who have seen her from her training days. Nobody had a good opinion on her whether it is her behaviour towards sub-ordinates, colleagues or her superiors, they think she had a mental problem that had to be treated from the beginning, but they did not treat it , and it later resulted in all these things. Just because she is an officer, her superior commanders did not advise or recommend psychiatric treatment for her. Infact I think in a way they were waiting for this to happen naturally, All personnel who have worked under her ie her subordinates or Airmen are happy that she is out of IAF, because she was such a bad officer ,a bad example of an officer, she was very rude and her behaviour towards her subordinates was very bad.

Anonymous said...

its nice to have mixed comments on such case. what we all forget or tend to forget is that we are very much judgemental. see there was a case between anjali and iaf and a court was convene. but we all try to make something of whatever little we know. i can gurantee that none of us knows more than anjali or iaf. they are the only ones who knows what was right and what was wrong. i have served in iaf for about 15yrs now and also knows most of the happenings. coming to the face value of it i think we should learn some lessons from this and stop crying without thinking on women's rights. yes most of the women are getting harassed on a lot of occassions but does that mean the moment we hear some women shouting of harrasment we make opinion on the men. by doing so we are not only living in the false world but also depriving some men of their dignity. not all men are cruel. even after seeing all this Mahila Morcha and other women organisations are not learning anything. resulting in men losing their dignity. what if sqn ldr chaudhary did not do anything? what if anjali is actually wrong and just trying to save her skin by putting some false allegations? even after been proven false in courtmartial life of sqn ldr chaudhary will never going to be same. he lost his reputation for ever, as people always says no smoke without fire.
Secondly we all knew what is the case and why iaf took such step, its that no one is talking. as far as money embezzlement is concerned we know its difficult to justify iaf stand. infact in any govt organisation there is always money embezzlement at some stage or the other. govt feels that giving pea-nuts and some name or appointment will fulfill all the needs. we all know when we approach a private sector undertaking the job is done by rules and not bribes. (i am talking lower levels where day to day customers are involved) try approaching any govt organisation. may be police, judicary, it department or for that matter any govt organisation. so this is just making of a case against an individual to remove her form the job. this case can be made blindly against any government servant if the organisation is against that individual. ( i would have raised a lot of eyebrows, but its a fact. my apologies to those who are not part of it but they will accept that they are very few in numbers, more in defence as there are not much occassions to be exposed to curruption.)
my idea is tell you what ever happened has happened because of something that we dont know fully and we cannot comment on it by being biased. anjali or iaf either could be right.

Anoop Saha said...

The kind of comments that Iam reading here is appalling.
Just because everybody "had a bad opinion about her", doesn't mean that everybody has a license for sexual harassment.

The fact that Ms. Gupta has been cashiered for a minor charge of embezzling Rs. 1080 (ha!!!) is proof enough that the IAF wants to brush the serious charges of bribes and sexual advances under the carpet.

It is not a Man vs Woman issue. It never was. The issue is of an individual vs an institution. An individual who believed in the sanctity of the institution that is rotten to the core. Iam ashamed as an Indian, as a man, and as a human being that we have such people in the force, who want to justify harassment of a woman.

Anonymous said...

i think u need not be ashamed too much about this case, If only you had a chance to see or meet this particular anjali gupta, I dont think any sane person would ever think of making sexual advances to her, I am one of the individuals who has seen this lady very closely and worked with her for four years, with the kind of behaviour she has, anybody could go mad, she is psychic, and worse humanbeing, she thought , because she is an officer, she can say, do, behave as she likes with her subordinates and airmen, she used to treat airmen like slaves, even people who are old and experienced in iaf, she never had any respect for anyone, she was a sadist and used to punish the trainees for no reason at all, all because she was an officer and nobody would dare complain against her,

She deserves to be dismissed from Iaf. She should have been stripped of her rank too, but the chief of iaf showed some sympathy and let her keep that.

Anonymous said...

everybody is shaant now... heh heh. But why the hell do people of this world indulge in discussions, when they don't know, or CAN know the facts? Indians are too free to do that, eh? Man I like this last comment (one above this)!

Anonymous said...

Thanks friend anonymous

Anonymous said...

I am a son of indian airforce officer ... my father has served in the IAF for more than 30 years .. Even if I dont have a first hand experience of all this , I have seen the IAF quiet closely ... To start with it is the most corrupt and indiscipline organisation I have ever seen ... We talk about discipline in the forces ... I guess a city coorporation office will have more discipline than in the forces ... I have not seen such sadistic people ever ... the only fun is to screw someones ass .. If he or she is not a party to crime, they are fininshed ... his or her career in the forces is over ... I know a person called wing commander Mathew ... He supported his fellow office who had met with a air crash in a court of enquiry where a air marshal was present. This air marshal was blaming the pilot for the crash when there was no fault of his ... even the black box said it was a technical error ... but when mathew supported the pilot ... he knew his carrer was over ... this is the sadest part of the whole thing ... you cannot be good ... the IAF officer, most of them are living on the sympathy they get from the civilian public ... but in real they are the biggest ass licker of the whole world ... I am sorry to say that but thats the whole reality ... the biggest problem is that these guys are bloody uneducated and are brutal from the day they land into NDA. whatever brains hey have also stops working during the training at the NDA. They see life as a freekin joke ... I am from a military school and I have alomst bath of mine in the forces .. I have seen the change in there attiture when they were with me and now when they are in the forces ... I think if all this corruption is stopped half of the half of the money the indian government sppends on the forces can be saved ...

Anonymous said...

Well in this world of strong openions, hardly anybody has the time to analyse a situation and opine on it. Everybody feels he is right. The general feeling is that an individual will always be right and yhe organisation will always be wrong. The ritiousness of the individual will be at a much higher level if it happens to be a women.

Wish people had the clarity on all issues befor they start giving a verdicts.

indianbull said...

she stole Rs 1080/- and is being cashiered?
what about all those who stole crores?absolutely nothing

seems it is a perfect set up

Anonymous said...

she has killed herself people...
Let her soul rest in peace.
i feel it is a curse to live in this country

Anonymous said...

anjali gupta comitted suicide today....11 sep 11

Anonymous said...

I am a serving officer in the Army and quite frankly, am amused at seeing such a bunch of armchair analysts. There are people here who are trying to take the moral higher ground of Jesus Christ himself. First of all, where have these sanctimonious people got their facts from? Oh I see, they have served in the Armed Forces and know what it takes to sacrifice family, friends and sometimes, life as the part of a job? No? Then they must be having a deep undercover source placed very high inside the IAF? No? The mindset of our esteemed civilian citizens sometimes astounds me. They sit in big cities, get all the comforts and then think they have a right to comment on anything and everything, no matter how half cocked their info. But please remember, the people you are cursing are the same people who are enabling you to be so 'upfront'. Had they not been doing their jobs, you people might be learning to speak Chinese. Ok, now for facts. However much the feminists may harp, 70% of the Woman Officers in the ARMY( of course, I can only comment on what I know about, unlike some people here, although, the environment is not very different in other services..) are a useless waste of manpower and resources. Not entirely their fault. The problem is, they want the power that comes with being an officer along with the privilege of getting away with most things because they are women. Unfortunately, that's not entirely possible in the forces. They are generally(exceptions exist) unwanted by most COs in the units because of their penchant for creating problems. For instance, their have been cases when molestation charges have been levelled at exceptional officers because they happened to tick off the accusing woman officer in aspects of military discipline. I know COs who have installed CCTVs in their offices so as to save themselves humiliation and false accusations later. In any case, most of the woman officers are treating with velvet gloves in their units( no one wants to risk a written complaint to the Chief over the most trivial rebukes, which are common for male officers). The troops do not want to serve with most of them because of the same reasons. Coming onto the issue at hand, I state beforehand that I don't know the case. But going by the same precedents seen by me in earlier cases, I say that someone in the IAF finally grew balls and decided that the organisation will not take nonsense anymore. I am not saying that cases of molestation or sexual advances or corruption do not exist in the forces. But wherever there are human beings, malpractices cannot be totally eradicated. However, they exist in a far minuscule frequency compared to other arenas because of the harsh discipline involved. How many ministers and bureaucrats indicted by Tehelka case were sacked? The Army, for good or bad, dismissed ALL the officers who figured in the stung, including a not-so-culpable Lt Gen. So gentlemen, please enjoy your laid back, 9-5, city dwelling life but do not comment on things on which you neither have the knowledge or the moral authority to comment. Thanks. (And btw, I have to remain anonymous since I am not permitted by Mil Law to interact in a Mass Media.. That's how tight discipline is. Unfortunately, I have the habit of speaking my mind, especially when unqualified people are slandering my organisation as a whole).

Anonymous said...

At minimum IAF does not seem to be a women friendly work environment.
Where any of the three officers "Squadron Leader R S Choudhary, Wing Commander V C Cyriac and Air Commodore Anil Chopra" against whom Anjali Gupta raised accusation also court martialed. However stressed MS Anjali Gupta might have been, taking one’s life is a ultimate price and IAF has a huge gap here in accommodating women (for Rs 1080 and throwing a superiors lunch ?) . There has to be better way handling these incidents (than court martial) when one cannot hold superiors who pass lewd comments at female subordinates to the same standard however hear-say it be.

Indian Home Maker said...