In a span of two days, two gentlemen cadet of the Indian Military Academy Nabin Kumar Chhetri and Deepak Sharma died in a routine run.
According to a report of the Time of India, IMA sources confirmed on Monday that seven cadets had collapsed during a “routine 10-km run” out of which five were admitted in the Military Hospital (MH) at Dehradun where their condition was reported to be “stable.” Chhetri passed away on Sunday night due to what sources at MH termed “multiple organ failure”. The cadets were at a training camp known as ‘Pahla Kadam’ — being conducted in the general area of Badshahi Bagh in Saharanpur district of UP — which is the first camp that new cadets who have joined as ‘direct entry’ recruits (after graduation) are taken to on joining the academy.
“During the runback of the exercise, seven gentlemen cadets fell unwell due to dehydration. All the cadets were administered first-aid by the medical officer present and evacuated in specialised ambulances with paramedic support to military hospital, Dehradun,” An Army statement said.
The report further said quoting the Army statement that “Deepak Sharma whose condition was critical was rushed to the nearest medical centre, Lehman Hospital, at Vikasnagar but could not be saved and died at 1.30 pm on August 18, and Chhetri on August 20 at 11.50 pm.
The death of two cadets in a span of two days at the prestigious military training academy has put into question the process by which cadets are screened before they are inducted. Army veterans while expressing anguish at the deaths said that the episode showed a “serious lapse in the physical fitness of the cadets and the failure of officials to test them properly at the entry level itself “.
Lt Gen (retd) Gambhir Negi, former commandant of IMA, told TOI, “There have been no such cases when I was a cadet and later the commandant at the academy. We would get tired during training but never reached a point of collapse. I feel that perhaps we require more efficient tests for physical fitness before cadets are taken into training academies.”
Calling it an “alarming incident”, Col (retd) S C Tyagi said, “This issue definitely needs to be looked into because such incidents show that the future officers of the Army are lacking in stamina and physical endurance. It seems that the lifestyle choices which youths are making today are taking their toll. The induction process also needs to be made stricter.”
A serving officer added that the ‘Pahla Kadam’ training is the “easiest” of all the camps at the academy. “The camp is held after almost three months of the cadets’ joining the academy. Perhaps their mental and physical endurance is not of very high standard at that time but the level of endurance training is also not very tough. Cadets are given theoretical and practical training on subjects like map reading, patrolling, etc, and the physical exertion involved is moderate.”