President Draupadi Murmu has ordered the termination of services for an Indian Army Major serving within a Strategic Forces Command (SFC) unit due to the Major's involvement in multiple security breaches, as determined by an Army inquiry, reported The Indian Express.
According to the IE report, the President, exercising powers of section 18 of the Army Act, 1950, read with Article 310 of the constitution, ordered the termination of the Major with immediate effect.
These orders were issued on September 15 and subsequently promulgated earlier this month at the Strategic Forces Command Unit where the Major had been posted in North India.
The Army's investigation into the Major's activities commenced in March 2022 when a Board of Officers was convened to investigate matters concerning the compromise of national security attributed to the officer.
This Board of Officers, authorised by the Strategic Forces Command, was tasked with the seizure of digital devices and an initial inquiry into the Major's potential involvement in suspicious activities, social media violations, security-related concerns, the sharing or leakage of classified information with unauthorised individuals, suspicious financial transactions, and potential espionage activities.
It was also mandated to thoroughly investigate all aspects related to counterintelligence and other pertinent areas requiring scrutiny.
According to sources, the investigation revealed that the Major had maintained copies of classified documents on his electronic devices, a clear violation of the Army's regulations.
Additionally, the Major had been engaged in social media chats with a Pakistani intelligence operative, constituting a breach of security protocols.
The Major's connections with other senior army officers, some of whom were participants in a WhatsApp chat group named 'Patiala Peg,' were also subject to investigation. He was reportedly called upon as a witness during the Court of Inquiry against several officers related to this group.
In the meantime, the Army is said to have issued a show cause notice to a Brigadier and a Lieutenant Colonel for administrative and disciplinary action concerning violations of social media policies and their membership in a WhatsApp group where objectionable content had been shared.
In July 2022, The Indian Express reported that the Army was investigating four officers for their involvement in the WhatsApp group 'Patiala Peg.'
Three of these officers had been suspended during the investigation, and two were based in the Military Intelligence (MI) Directorate at Army HQ in New Delhi. The third officer served as an Instructor at the Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, and the fourth officer was stationed in Mumbai.
There were suspicions that the WhatsApp group 'Patiala Peg,' in which these officers participated, had been infiltrated by a Pakistani Intelligence Operative (PIO).
An investigation was initiated to determine if any classified military information had been shared by the group members.
Mobile phones and other personal digital assets belonging to these four officers had been seized by Army authorities in March 2022 at the direction of the Directorate General of Military Intelligence (DGMI).
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