In an incident that may turn out to be an embarrassment for the Indian Army, an officer's wife claimed on Monday that her husband's superior coerced her into participating in a fashion show to be held in the Faridkot brigade next week. The fashion show is being organised by the Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA).
The Army Wives Welfare Association (AWWA) is a non-government organistation (NGO) headed by the army chief's wife. It is mandatory for the wife of every serving army officer and jawan to be a member and take part in the activities of the Association. The Association's activities are meant to be for the well-being of Army wives and children, apart from helping in the rehabilitation of war widows and special children.
Doing unofficial tasks for superiors has become a social convention, which is largely followed by officers.
On Tuesday, the Army ordered an inquiry to be headed by an officer of the rank of Major General from the Command after the 29-year-old woman complained to Lt. General AK Sahni, the South Western Army Commander. In her complaint, the woman said that her husband's — an Army Major in the artillery regiment in Faridkot, Punjab — Brigade Commander harassed and threatened her when she objected to participating in a fashion show.
Army sources said that the woman had expressed her inability to participate because she did not want to leave her children alone at home while the rest of the participants rehearsed for the show. Moreover, she was opposed to the event as it had "nothing to do with family welfare".
"She mentioned that the Brigade Commander told her that 'Institutions are never questioned and that that should be understood by both of you. I will make sure that it is understood well'." the source said, while referring to the woman's complaint letter. According to the complaint letter, the Brigadier even abused the woman and her husband in the presence of another senior officer and his wife.
The army has maintained that there is no AWWA at the Brigade- or unit-level and that the Association and its activities are restricted to Army HQ and Command-level.
"Yes, the complaint has been received by the South Western Command Headquarters and an inquiry has been ordered," said a senior officer at the Army Headquarters in New Delhi.