After decades of turning wide-eyed teenagers into battle-hardy soldiers, the National Defense Academy, the country's premier defense institute, is battling a problem of a different kind.
For the past six months, the new "conflict situation", caused by a spate of attacks by monkeys, has stumped even the best of its trainers and sent them scurrying for new tactics.
The simians have been making life difficult for the gentlemen cadets training at the academy. They have disrupted training exercises, broken window panes and pulled out plants in the academy's manicured lawns. "They descend in groups and make a mess of everything," say officials.
The menace reached such proportions that the academy decided to take things into its hands. On May 6, the NDA put out a tender "for control of monkey (langur) menace at the National Defense Academy". The tender called for organizations with relevant experience to apply for "humanitarian control measures to curb the future growth of monkey (langur) population.". The tender proposed to tranquilize, sterilize, band and release the monkeys in the wild.
So far, so good. But wait. The tender also caught the attention of the forest department and wildlife officials, who, aghast at the measures proposed to remove the monkeys, invoked the Wildlife Protection Act and pulled up the academy for issuing such a tender.
"The academy officials should have come to us before filing the tender. If the NDA is in the jungle, its residents will have to abide by the law. The area originally belongs to animals and the academy will have to live in harmony with the animals," shot off Vishwas Bhadale, Regional Forest Officer.
He added that sterilizing and removing the monkeys was not the solution. Rather, the root of the problem has to be addressed by providing the monkeys alternate places for food and water.