NEW DELHI: In yet another curious turn, the CRPF on Tuesday evening claimed all the 59 CoBRA commandos who had deserted the Force en masse on Friday, returned to the 205 Battalion headquarters in Gaya (Bihar).
“All 59 have returned to unit headquarters around 1100 hrs today morning,” DIG (Intelligence) at CRPF Directorate and in-charge PRO Dinakaran told the Express.
IG CoBRA Raju Bhargava also repeated Dinakaran’s statement when asked about the status of the deserting CoBRA commandos.
Following the Express story on mass desertion by CoBRA commandos, Dinakaran had on Monday issued a statement dated February 6, 2015 (instead of February 6, 2017) saying, “Some of the media are carrying a news item about missing/desertion of 59 CRPF personnel of 205 CoBRA enroute on move from Jammu to their Unit in Gaya (Bihar). These personnel were returning to their Unit after completion of their 6 months training at Recruitment Training Centre, Srinagar and had their return reservations from Jammu to Gaya on 5 February, 2017 in Shealdah Express. Due to inclement weather and road blockade these personnel were sent to Jammu on 1 Feb, 2017 and decided to board an early train on 2nd February. Since they were early as per their scheduled programme, they decided on their own to avail Saturday and Sunday to visit their home without prior permission from competent authority. These personnel have committed a misconduct for which they will be dealt departmentally.”
The internal communication circulated across all formations of the CRPF dated February branded them as deserters but the CRPF sought to hoodwink the Media saying they were “Absent Without Leave” which according to Oxford dictionary and military or uniformed service parlance means desertion.
Sources in 205 CoBRA said DIG of Tactical Headquarters Gaya Sajiuddin visited CoBRA headquarters in Gaya and took a written statement from the returning commandos claiming the cause of their disappearance as mentioned in the statement issued by CRPF Directorate here on Monday.
Here is the full statement from the CRPF PRO:
The sources said some of the commandos are yet to return but the Force has decided to claim that all of them joined the battalion headquarters in order to minimize the damage to the top paramilitary leadership.
While the CRPF in its statement on Monday said they decided on their own to avail Saturday and Sunday visit their homes, they still were late by a day as they returned on Tuesday as claimed by the Force.
Dinakaran was evasive as to how there was so much of coincidence that all the 59 commandos decided to break the rules together to desert the Force and decide to join back the same day.
Other CRPF officials said such instance of mass desertion is not only an indication of the growing indiscipline in the ranks due to the poor display of leadership from the top but also shows the lack of regimentation in the paramilitary.
They said desertion is an offence and a serious misconduct according to the rules.
Fifty-nine CoBRA commandos had deserted the Force while they were en route to Gaya (Bihar) for deployment with 205 CoBRA Battalion on February 2. The CRPF on Sunday (February 5) concluded that they have deserted and the message was circulated to all the formations of the paramilitary in the country.
CoBRA is a specialised anti-Naxal Force and the mass desertion of such a magnitude was first in both the CRPF and CoBRA.