A Tale Of Two Indian Colonels
Every institution has heroes and black sheeps — the Indian army is no different.
Colonel Asutosh Sharma , twice winner of Sena Medal for his exceptional gallantry and leadership in the face of huge adversity, lay dead after a fierce gunbattle in Kashmir’s Handwara, but not before the CO of 21 Rastriya Rifles had eliminated dreaded LET terror bos Haidar.
His daughter Tammana, 7 , would weep all her life for her doting father . The family has been promised a reasonable compensation by UP government .But can that really make up for a wife who lost her husband and a daughter who lost her father at such a tender age.
The only satisfaction : Colonel Sharma, a role model for juniors and a gung-ho brave , will remain in Indian army’s Gallery of Heroes for all times to come.
Contrast to our half colonel in Hyderabad — moonlighting for IPL , making three times his army salary , but all the while remaining on the army rolls.
In a superbly professional army like India’s , where officers are worried about accepting fees while lecturing in foreign thinktanks while in service, Lt Col G.B.M.K Rao is a class apart.
He was commissioned in the Regiment of Artillery, is posted with the National Cadet Corps in Odisha .
He was on study leave in Secunderabad for two years from 2016-2018, says one of his course-mates, who was unwilling to be named.Rao has frightened his army colleagues by flaunting his ‘political contacts.’
Before his ‘study stints’ in Secundrabad . Rao was posted in TASA directorate as the AAG for over two years.
But in blatant violation , Rao is working for the India Premier League (IPL) as CIty Coordinator (Hyderabad) since the last three years.
He is never seen in uniform but in his IPL T-shirt or in the T-shirt of G4 security company , who hires him for the entire duration of the IPL in Hyderabad.
IPL officials were cagey about payments made to Rao though on condition of anonymity , they admitted he was paid a ‘consultation fees’ of Rs 5 lakh for each IPL season.
They say Rao has never had problems getting long leaves away from his duty station.
“He coordinates movement of teams playing IPL in and out of Hyderabad,” one army colleague said, but insisting on anonymity..
The police commissioners office in Telengana and the CISF personnel posted in the city are apparently aware of Rao’s work with G4 with IPL.
” We have to disclose to army if we are paid Rs 1000 or 2000 for delivering a lecture on our domain expertise in a professional institute , but we doubt if he does that with the army. Just wonder how he can get away with this,” said another army officer in Hyderabad.
Another serving officer said a court of inquiry had been instituted against Lt Col Rao in NCC Secundrabad directorate.
But army authorities were not responding to requests for comment.
So , as Colonel Asutosh Sharma lay dead in the Handwara forest, Lt Col G.M.B.K Rao relaxed in Sainikpuri home in Hyderabad , waiting for the IPL to start , so he could get back to moonlighting yet again.
Assured of a bright future even if he has to leave the army .
One is reminded of Lt Col Viswajit Singh Grewal , a Military Intelligence officer, who double-crossed the NUPA rebels of Myanmar’s Rakhine province thensupported by India in 1998 in a false encounter in the Landfall Islands of Andamans.
Grewal, born in Myanmar and fluent in Burmese, promptly left the army fearing an enquiry into ‘Operation Leech” , claimed a huge booty of 1 million US dollars,(more , according to one former MI colleague) from Burmese military Tatmadaw, for whom he had worked all through out. He now shuttles between his cycle factory in Yangon and his ‘kothi’ in Mohali (Punjab) where his family.Former BBC Correspondent Subir Bhaumik exposed Grewal and his double-cross in a Times of India investigation titled “The Great Betrayal” and Nandita Haksar wrote a whole book “Rogue Agent” on Grewal and his misdeeds.
Many MI officers suspect he might have passed on a part of the big bucks to his Army bosses in 1998.
Similarly RAW joint secretary Ravinder Singh fled to US with the help of his CIA handlers after having supplied them a lot of top secret material related to India’s nuclear activities .
As Grewal goes scot-free shuttling between Mohali, Delhi and Yangon and Ravinder Singh lies in his grave in US , having reportedly passed away in 2018, both unpunished, many in the Indian defence forces wonder about the force is reconciled to two set of standards — one for the likes of Rao and another for the bravehearts like Asutosh Sharma and Vikram Batra.