President terminates services of Army Major over breach of national security protocol
Army Major was found guilty of keeping classified info on phone & for ‘being in touch with Pakistani Intelligence Operative’ through social media, it is learnt.
New Delhi: A Major in the Army, posted with the Strategic Forces Command at the time of his ‘suspension’ last year, has been terminated from service by President Droupadi Murmu, based on the Army’s recommendation, for breaching security protocol, ThePrint has learnt.
Sources in the defence and security establishment said that the termination order was signed off by the President over a week ago.
Nearly 20 defence personnel are separately undergoing a probe after they were found to be part of a WhatsApp group called “Patiala Peg”, which the accused Major was also part of, where unauthorised conversation is believed to have taken place, it is learnt.
They added that more officers, including a Brigadier-rank officer, will face action in the coming weeks as the probe is complete, but underlined that this is not based on any leaks of classified information outside the Army.
“There are about 20 other officers undergoing a probe for separate reasons but connected to a WhatsApp group of the Major. These officers will face action including termination for at least one officer, mentions of severe displeasure of their conduct and even counselling,” a source told ThePrint.
Asked if this entailed only junior officers, the source added that the accused belonged to different ranks.
While the initial investigation was carried out by the Strategic Forces Command, which oversees India’s nuclear arsenal, other agencies have now come into play.
The Major had come under the suspicion of the Strategic Forces Command, which carried out its own probe. When his phone was seized and analysed as part of a probe into his suspicious activities, investigators found the WhatsApp group, which counted several military officers and spouses as its members.
Subsequently, the scope of the probe was expanded.
Incidentally, four Army officers of the rank of Colonel and Lt Colonel had last year filed a petition in the Supreme Court last year alleging that their right to privacy under the Constitution had been violated by military authorities who seized their mobile phones for an espionage investigation and then suspended three of them on the grounds of morality.
“This case is different from that of the Major. We have challenged the way this case was handled since it goes against the principle of natural justice,” Col Amit Kumar (Retd), counsel for the four officers, told ThePrint.
Talking about the Major, sources said he has been found guilty of keeping classified information on his phone which is a violation of the Strategic Forces Command and Army protocols.
He was also found to be guilty of being in touch with a Pakistani Intelligence operative through social media.
Asked if other group members were also part of the racket, sources said that action is being taken against them on the issue of morality and unauthorised social media activities.