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Protests erupted in J&K’s Bandipore on Monday after army arrested several people and allegedly tortured them in custody.
A woman was also injured when army men hit her “with rifle butts” while trying to seek release of her brother.
Deputy Commissioner Bandipore Sajad Hussain ordered an inquiry into the alleged incident of torture and asked the Superintendent of Police (SP) Bandipore to register an FIR.
On Monday morning, villagers said that the army picked up several villagers from their homes at Chuntimulla village of Bandipore.
“It was very early in the morning that army barged into our houses and picked up some people who were still sleeping,” said Irshad Ahmad, a resident of Chuntimulla.
“The army men asked these youth to inform them where the militants are hiding. When they said they have no information, the army men started to beat them and dragged them to their camp,” he added.
The villagers said that the army men were accompanied by J-K Police’s Special Operations Group (SOG) personnel.
As the news spread in the village, which lies just 500 meters from the army camp established there more than a decade ago, the villagers trooped out and moved towards the army camp seeking the release of the men picked up by the army.
“When we started protesting outside the camp, the army men started to beat us with rifle butts,” said Saif-ud-din, whose niece Sakeena Begum was injured when she was hit with rifle butts on her head.
“Her (Sakeena’s) brother was also picked up by the army men. When she was protesting for her release, an army men hit on her head,” she said.
Though the army released the men, the villagers alleged that they were severely tortured. The villagers took the injured men, in a procession, to Bandipore hospital. The doctors at the District Hospital Bandipore referred three injured men to Srinagar for specialized treatment.
“Two of them, a youth and a woman, had external head injuries,” Dr Shariq, who treated the patients told The Indian Express.
“We provided them treatment but since it was a head injury, we referred them to Srinagar for further investigations,” he said.
The Deputy Commissioner Bandipore Sajad Hussain said that he asked the Assistant Commissioner Revenue (ACR) of the district to conduct an inquiry and to submit a report within ten days. “These are upper reaches and perhaps infested by militants. There is a cordon laid off by the security agencies from past one month and whenever they get an input, they question the villagers,” he said. “Today they had picked up two or three persons and this created a law and order problem.”
The Deputy Commissioner said that the army told him the arrested men weren’t tortured at the camp but injured when army tried to contain the protests but acknowledged the there was “use of excessive force” by the army.
Army spokesman Lt Col N N Joshi didn’t respond.