#MeToo: Wife of Army Officer Alleges Harassment by Retd Brigadier
Refuting the allegations, the Army has said the Brigadier “had never met or interacted” with Kumar.
The wife of an Indian Army officer has accused a retired Brigadier of harassment and defamation while blaming the armed forces administration for not acting on her complaints.
Refuting allegations of harassment made by Roshni Ajit Kumar against retired Brigadier Jai Singh, the Indian Army on Sunday, 4 November, told The Quint that “Brigadier Singh had never met or interacted” with Kumar, who is the wife of a serving officer in the Army.
“I can make life heaven or hell for you here,” Roshni Ajit Kumar was allegedly told by Brigadier Jai Singh, who had purportedly offered to help her out anytime, “even in the night, if required.” Brigadier Singh was the Station Commanding Officer of the Delhi area at the time of the incident, and is learnt to have retired on Wednesday, 31 October 2018.
According to a Facebook post by Kumar, which has now been removed, the incident dates back to 2014 and took place inside the Army cantonment area in South Delhi.
In her post, Kumar states that Brigadier Jai Singh had stopped her during one of her evening walks and conveyed his “desire to be with her.”
According to Kumar, this was the second time Brigadier Singh had stopped her and made an indecent suggestion while her husband was posted miles away in Nagaland. Kumar’s husband had worked under Singh for two months prior to his posting.
Kumar also claims that Brigadier Singh had made similar suggestions to other women in the residential colony, who, for now, have decided to not speak out about their experiences.
Kumar has not filed a written complaint against Brigadier Jai Singh, and has only spoken about the allegations in her Facebook post.
Survivor Suggests Vendetta by Brigadier Singh
Since Kumar’s husband was posted in the field, the family was required to shift to a smaller accommodation, as is the norm. According to Kumar, Brigadier Singh knew that the couple had asked for an accommodation near Pratap Chowk.
The couple’s daughter was in the Class 12, and Pratap Chowk, their preferred place of residence, would have been a stone’s throw from her school and coaching centres.
After allegedly being subjected to inappropriate suggestions on that particular evening, Kumar had reportedly warned Brigadier Singh that if “he ever stopped me again, he’d have to rewrite the definition of hell and heaven.”
Following this incident, Kumar asserts that her family was not allotted a house in the locality they had asked for. She goes on to assert that Brigadier Singh was well aware of her back issues, but had still allotted the family a flat on the 7th floor of a building.
Kumar’s husband then personally appealed to higher authorities, who allotted the family a different house. But the family still had to write to Brigadier Singh every time they faced any problem within the complex, Kumar says.
A woman living on the floor above Kumar had been allegedly feeding monkeys and dogs from her balcony and at the entrance of the building. This made it impossible for Kumar and her daughter to access their balconies, which had to always be sealed because of the monkeys. This, Kumar says, had “turned their lives into hell.”
‘Brigadier Singh Invented False Charges’: Kumar
Kumar first complained about the lady on the floor above and the monkey menace to Brigadier Singh as he was in charge. When Brigadier Singh didn’t reply, Kumar wrote to higher authorities, following which she claims to have been called by Col APS Negi (Ex Adm Comdt), the officer serving and reporting to Brigadier Jai Singh.
Following this complaint, Kumar says she “was called and in presence of my upper house lady, her 16-year-old son and another officer Col Sohi, I was humiliated, cornered and threatened, stating if I write any complaint letter again, it will be torn and throw into dustbin. Also it will be seen that I am shifted out of this area with immediate notice (sic).”
On 5 March, a day after she was “humiliated and threatened,” Kumar again wrote to Brigadier Singh, who, she claims, remained silent on the matter.
After failing to get any response from Brigadier Singh, Kumar’s husband finally wrote to the GOC, Delhi Area, requesting a “a Court of Enquiry for threatening and humiliating his wife.”
In its e-mailed response to The Quint, the Army has not spoken about this incident, as alleged by Kumar.
Rattled by the GOC complaint, Brigadier Singh, Kumar claims, found a new way to needle the family. This time, they were accused of overstaying at an Army property.
“Brig Jai Singh (who also held the post of judge EO Court) immediately on 20 March 2015, exactly after my first complaint, sent a show-cause notice stating we have to pay Rs 2.70 lakh towards overstay at a government house. An overstay that we never did. Our vacating document from MES to my husband has stated Nil. Neither were we ever sent any show-cause notice ever before till we rightfully vacated and shifted here. We were approached to settle the matter and the amount shall be excused but then we opted to pay and fight it legally...”Roshni Ajit Kumar, Survivor
Family’s Stay at Bungalow Was Unauthorised: Indian Army
Reacting to Kumar’s allegation that her family had never overstayed, the Indian Army told The Quint that after Kumar’s husband was posted to the field, the family was offered a separate accommodation, which they kept declining.
According to the Army, the officer (Kumar’s husband) “insisted on staying in bungalow type accommodation which is not permissible beyond two months on being posted out.” The Army believes that by refusing to shift to a different apartment, the family had overstayed in an “unauthorised manner.”
As per the procedure, the unauthorised occupation was referred to Estate Officers’ Court and the officer was fined amount of Rs 2,71,190 for unauthorised occupation. “The issue was deliberated and the fined amount was halved by the competent authority,” the Indian Army Added.
Kumar,on the contrary, claims that an Army officer had approached her husband, and offered to settle the case by waiving the cost the couple had paid, for allegedly overstaying at the government house. However, she has not been able to offer any evidence in this regard.
The case is presently on at Patiala House Court, New Delhi.
Complainant ‘Quite Possibly ‘Overreacting’: Brigadier’s Letter
Kumar claims that in order to seek revenge for Kumar and her husband’s complaint to the higher authorities, Brigadier Singh wrote to all commands questioning the mental condition of “the lady” (Kumar) and said that her accusations should not be taken seriously as it was “quite possible” that she was “over exaggerating and overreacting.”
The letter, provided to The Quint by Kumar, says Kumar’s husband had “stated that his wife was undergoing Neuro treatment in R&R (Army Research and Referral hospital), as the mental condition of the lady is not anomalous.” Kumar claims her husband never made such a statement and the entire charge was fabricated by Brigadier Singh.
Kumar also claims in her post that Brigadier Singh, in the same letter, had accused her husband of sedition. Accessed by The Quint, the letter says that the complaint written by Kumar’s husband to the GOC is “seditious in nature.”
This reporter had sent a detailed questionnaire to the Army PRO, asking how Brigadier Singh was allowed to place sedition charges. While the Army claims that Brigadier Singh never met Kumar, it has not answered the specific question as to why Brigadier Singh had called the letter written by Kumar’s husband ‘seditious.’
Army Inquiry Found Kumar’s Charges ‘Untrue’
Kumar claims that she had first complained to the Army Women’s Welfare Association, but they too remained silent. The Delhi Commission for Women headed by Swati Maliwal was approached, but it too did not act on the matter, alleges Kumar.
In her Facebook post, Kumar claims she had written to the National Human Rights Commission, but the Army’s response to it came only after a gruelling wait of three-and-a-half years. Her post adds that in that report, the Army said the charges levelled by Kumar against two of its officers were untrue. The Army said it did not find any substance in Kumar’s allegation that she was humiliated by Col APS Negi (Ex Adm Comdt), the post claims.
According to the e-mailed response by the Indian Army, Kumar had filed two written complaints, one with the NHRC and the second with the Chief of Army Staff. The Army then asked her to withdraw one of the two complaints, so as to “facilitate the inquiry by the Army.” However, the Army claims that there was “no response from her (Kumar).”
The Army has not clarified exactly how it found the charges levelled by Kumar to be untrue. It has confirmed that Brigadier Singh retired on 31 October 2018 and added that further information will be made available after contacting him.
“He’s actually managed to make my life hell,” says Kumar, as she looks back at that unpleasant evening. She says that not only has the Army denied her true justice, but it has also remained silent on how Brigadier Jai Singh was allowed to call her mentally ill and accuse her husband of sedition.
Kumar now wants the Army to re-look at the matter and establish a court of inquiry.
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