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Wife swapping scandal at Kochi Navy base
SUMAN SHARMA  New Delhi | 11th Dec 2011

he Indian Navy's Kochi-based Southern Command has ordered a Board of Inquiry (BoI) into incidents of wife-swapping taking place among a group of officers posted there. One of the wives complained about this practice to the Chief of Staff of the Command, thereby escalating the matter to the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FoC-in-C) of the Command.

The four officers were posted on INS Dronacharya, the gunnery school of the Indian Navy, for their long gunnery specialisation course. The year-long course began in July this year. INS Dronacharya was last in the news when Rear Admiral S.S. Jamwal shot himself at the gunnery school in July 2010, thereby becoming the first senior most naval officer to do so.

One of the four officers was a bachelor when they formed a "key-chain club". The wives of the married officers were swapped through a game that involved picking up a keychain randomly. The lady owning the keychain would oblige the officer who had picked it up.

The bachelor officer, Lieutenant Commander Mukesh Sharma, got married recently and tried initiating his newlywed wife into the "club". But she refused to be a part of the game and complained to the Chief of Staff, Southern Naval Command, Rear Admiral S. Shrikhande. From there the matter was escalated to the FoC-in-C, Vice Admiral K.N. Sushil, who in turn ordered an inquiry.

When The Sunday Guardian contacted the Southern Command for comment, officials said that they had nothing to say.

The four officers have been removed from the course, and have been posted in different departments outside the School, but in Kochi itself.

It may be noted that Indian Navy Commodore Sukhjinder Singh was dismissed from service, with the Presidential Pleasure clause being invoked, earlier this year, on similar grounds. An inquiry was ordered after Commodore Singh's illegitimate liaison with a Russian woman came to light in 2010. The incident took place in Russia when Singh was posted there as warship production superintendent overseeing the refitting of Gorshkov between 2005 and 2007. On his return to India, Singh was connected with the project till 2009 in the Naval Headquarters as Principal Director (aircraft carrier project). The officer was removed from his position as Principal Director and attached with the Defence Ministry's Directorate-General of Quality Assurance (DGQA) in Delhi for his inquiry.

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