Sandeep Dikshit

This is intended to reduce incidents of fictitious killing of terrorists

No reports of operations conducted by Army unitsRecognition given to overall performance based on several parametersSoldiers will have to be professional in all respects

NEW DELHI: The Army has revised its evaluation criteria for awards in order to reduce incidents of fictitious killing of terrorists. As a result, there have been no exaggerated reports about operations conducted by Army units, according to the Chief of the Army Staff, J. J. Singh. "For the last one year there has been no incident of terrorist kills being made up or exaggerated in order to receive personal or unit level awards," Gen. Singh told the media after the Army Commanders' conference here on Thursday.

"Recognition is now given to overall performance based on several parameters. The penalty is high if mistakes are committed by ignoring the standing orders. I also intend restricting unit citations to the barest minimum as we do not wish to encourage a race between units to achieve recognition by exaggerating what they have achieved," he said.

Elaborating, the Army Chief said a system of negative points has been introduced for mistakes committed during operations. These could include custodial deaths, killing innocent civilians or unnecessary collateral damage. "A unit might have killed many terrorists but all that is cancelled if it earned severe negative points for committing any of these incidents. So the message is clear. The soldiers have to be professional in all respects and not just in the number of terrorists killed."

The Army has been embarrassed in the past when some of its units faked killings to get awards. There was the case of the "Ketchup" Colonel in the North-East where an officer got his jawans to don militant fatigues, pour sauce on themselves and pose as militants killed in encounter with the troops. In the Siachen Glacier too a similar incident took place in which video-footage was recorded of fake Pakistani soldiers being killed. The then chief of the Leh-based 14 Corps was also taken in by the footage and he took it to the Staff College at Wellington for a lecture on effective operations on the glacier.

Due to the revised instructions, there were only three incidents of mistaken killings this year and none of fake killings since last year.

"We have mastered a trend which we thought could have gone out of control." He also asked the media to appreciate the magnitude of the Army's operations. "Tonight, one lakh soldiers will be on duty, on the borders with China and Pakistan and in counter-insurgency operations in the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir. Compared to that just three mistakes were committed in the past three months. I am sure if you compare it with the records of other armies, the extent of our professionalism will be clear," he pointed out.