Day after Major gets 3 years RI, US woman says 'truth has prevailed'

A day after an Army court ruled that Major Saurabh Saharan of 61 Cavalry should be cashiered, and sentenced to three years rigorous imprisonment, Nancey Chapman, a US national, has finally got closure in the case.

A jewellery designer, Chapman, 42, made her first trip to India in 1999, hoping to pick up the intricate skills of traditional goldsmiths. She met Saharan, who is in his late thirties, in Jaipur in 2008, after she had split from her husband.

According to Chapman, they spent several evenings together, at polo matches or at her house. Some time later, Chapman decided to buy a vehicle. She wanted to buy a sedan, but Saharan favoured an SUV. After several test drives, they settled for a sedan, which Saharan reportedly promised to buy from the Army's Canteen Stores Department (CSD).

Saharan reportedly insisted that they should buy the vehicle in his name so that they would be able to avail a discount. He promised to transfer the ownership of the vehicle later.

Chapman claimed she initially gave him Rs 11.5 lakh, and another Rs 6 lakh later to buy the vehicle. Within days of getting the money, Saharan's demeanour reportedly changed.

When she realised she had been conned, Chapman sought police intervention, but they reportedly told her it was an Army matter. She then wrote to the chief of Army staff, the defence minister and several top officials.

Meanwhile, she claimed, she was threatened by Saharan and his family. "They would threaten to get me deported. I was scared but I decided to fight for justice," she said.

Several courts of inquiry were set up since 2009. The last one, that presided from April 16, 2012 to February 11, 2013, found Saharan guilty of four charges, including "communicating information to a foreign national" and "improperly accepting Rs 17.5 lakh" from Chapman.

"This is a victory for all women. Don't be afraid to stand up for the truth," said Chapman. "I am really grateful to the Indian Army for standing by me and the truth. This was a long fight in an alien country but truth has prevailed."

"I did not fight as a foreigner. I fought as a woman," said Chapman, who is now being invited by women's organisations to share her story.

When contacted, Saharan's father, Colonel Saharan, said: "My son is totally innocent, he has been wrongly implicated in this case."

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