It is shameful that five Indian Navy cadets were involved in a sexual molestation case. On Sunday, five cadets harassed a woman at a pub in Bandra.

Then, when an altercation broke out between the woman’s husband and them, the former complained to the club’s management. Even after a warning, the cadets continued to misbehave. It was then that the bouncers evicted the cadets from the club. Instead of leaving the club, the humiliated cadets, who wanted revenge, chased the woman in an auto rickshaw through the suburbs.

The police then intervened and nabbed the cadets mid-chase. One can hardly believe that this is Mumbai, touted as one of the safest cities for women. That naval cadets have resorted to such behaviour is more shocking. Whether we like it or not, the Indian defence forces have always been held to a higher moral yardstick.

People consider defence personnel in uniform their heroes. One may call it blind hero worship, but there is reason to believe that our armed forces are the last bastion of good behaviour, discipline, morality and sacrifice. In a nation beset by cynicism and scepticism about our leaders, where scams and graft hit the headlines with sickening regularity, people think the defence services are above failings.

It may be a warped view, but it exists nevertheless. So, to think that cadets have stooped to this level makes it even more disappointing for the nation. The outrage that followed the Adarsh scam was not just because politicians were involved, what hurt people most was that top defence officials had a hand in the scam. It proved that laypersons hold men and women in uniform to a different moral yardstick.

It also shows us that even after so much awareness and so many drives, women continue to be the target of molestation and violence. It only makes the case for stricter punishment for such crimes even stronger. That men who were training to defend the country at sea could resort to such behaviour is simply abysmal.