Five FIRs have been lodged against Armymen in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Kameng district after a group of 100 armed soldiers allegedly vandalised premises of a police station, assaulted policemen and thrashed a civilian. The Army has, however, said the incident at Bomdila town, was the “outcome of highhandedness displayed by the Arunachal police coupled with the lax attitude of the civil administration”.
According to DC Sonal Swaroop and SP Raja Banthia, on Friday night, a group of “inebriated” soldiers allegedly misbehaved with people and manhandled police personnel at Buddha Mahotsav celebrations in Bomdila. “The SHO went to the spot and two soldiers were brought to police station for medical examination. They were found to be intoxicated. An Army Major came to the police station and apologised. He gave a written undertaking that the men would be presented whenever required for any inquiry and took them away,” Banthia said.
However, Defence spokesperson Lt Col Harsh Wardhan Pande said in a statement, “They were severely beaten up in the police lock up despite they informing them that they are from Indian Army. Both the soldiers are presently admitted and are undergoing medical treatment in Mil hospital…”
Banthia denied the charge. “Whatever force was used on the intoxicated men was because they were misbehaving with women personnel and those personnel used force in self-defence.”
He said that on Saturday morning, Commanding Officer of 2nd Arunachal Scouts, an officer of Colonel rank, came to Bomdila police station with the Major and scores of soldiers. “The CO abused policemen and threatened to kill the OC. He was demanding that the OC apologise to the battalion,” Banthia said.
According to Banthia, the Armymen left soon, only to return. “Over 100 armed soldiers came in trucks fitted with LMGs. We had called the CRPF for help. The soldiers vandalised our property, broke glasses of our vehicles and threw stones. I informed the DC and as she arrived, stones were thrown and abuses hurled at her.”
DC Swaroop said some soldiers were armed with knives and alleged that top Army officers at the spot remained “unapologetic”.
“The soldiers brutally thrashed a civilian who was a bystander. The SP has bruises,” she alleged. The SP alleged that a soldier hit him in the abdomen with the butt of a rifle.
But Lt Col Pande said the Commanding Officer “tried to defuse the situation by having a meeting with Banthia at the SP Office but “the police personnel instigated the Commanding Officer’s protection by misbehaving with them and using unparliamentary language which led to a scuffle between both sides”.
“Both the Commanding Officer and the SP rushed out and defused the situation.”
He added, “The police has not acted in a responsible and mature manner violating all the laid down protocols of dealing with the uniform personnel, as instead of locking up the soldiers in the police station they should have handed over the soldiers to the military authorities.”