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Army, nursing staff standoff over uniform
Josy Joseph in New Delhi | April 16, 2004 03:38 IST
There was a stiff stand off on Thursday between the Army and a new batch of nursing officers in three different cities, leading to cancellation of their induction ceremony, ugly arguments and allegations of their detention.
Army authorities cancelled commissioning of the new batches of nursing officers in the three cities slated for Thursday after they refused to take oath in a new uniform.
The nursing officers had turned up in the Army's olive green uniform. But authorities refused to administer the oath insisting that they turn up in the new beige colour safari suit type uniform.
According to a source in Army headquarters, the commissioning ceremony was cancelled in Chandigarh, Lucknow and Delhi. But the nursing officers in Calcutta came in their new uniforms and were commissioned.
There has been a long-standing dispute over the uniform of nurses in the military. While the Army wants them to wear white or some other coloured uniform, the nurses want to wear olive green like all other officers.
A source in the Military Nursing Service told rediff.com that the new nursing officers were detained at the Research and Referral Hospital in the capital till afternoon without proper food. "The authorities posted two sentries to keep watch on them," the source said.
The drama began early morning when the new nursing officers reported at 8am for the big day of their career.
After about 15 minutes of practice, authorities asked them to change into uniforms for the passing out parade.
The nurses came out in olive green. The officers who were overseeing the function flew into a rage and there was a long argument.
While nurses claim they were detained by the authorities till afternoon, Army authorities say there was no such incident. "The commissioning was cancelled and they would be intimated about the fresh dates later," a senior officer said.
The nurses claim to have a stay order from the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court on the introduction of the new uniform till May 10 while Army authorities claim they are implementing a Supreme Court order.
Ever since the Military Nursing Service was created in the 50s, there has been simmering discontent among other officers, especially doctors, about nurses wearing similar uniforms and having similar ranks.
Nurses do not get the same salary and privileges as other officers.
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