Army Orders Probe Into 'molestation' Bid
27 June 2007
The Indian Express
Srinagar: The Army has ordered a court of inquiry into the alleged molestation of a girl by its soldiers in Bandipore on Tuesday. The Commander of the Army's 15 Corp today said action would be taken against soldiers if found guilty. Even as the J-K police lodged an FIR against the soldiers in the case, the Army has filed a counter FIR against the villagers. 'We have ordered a court of inquiry. We don't condone any mistake and we will take action (against soldiers), if their fault is proved,' said Corps Commander, 15 Corp, Lt Gen A S Sekhon. The J- K Police has formally registered an FIR against the soldiers. 'We have registered a case against the Havildar and the Lance Naik and they are with us,' Baramulla Senior Superintendent of Police Viplaw Kumar said. On the FIR filed by the Army at Bandipore, a police official said that the Army has stated that the soldiers were on a bonafide search operation when they were assaulted to help the militants escape. On Tuesday, the villagers of Kunan caught two Armymen, who were posing as militants and had entered a house in civies. They allegedly tried to molest a girl there. The villagers beat up the two, shaved off their heads and ripped their clothes before bringing them to Bandipore in a procession. 'We were sitting together when they (soldiers) called us,' said Mir Jan, mother of the girl. 'They were posing as militants and asked for food. They told me to go out so that they could search the house, but told my daughter to stay inside. Suddenly, there was a noise and when I rushed in, I saw her clothes were torn.' Her statement was corroborated by Mohammad Zaman Khan, an eyewitness. 'I heard some noise. When I rushed in, I saw the two soldiers and the girl's clothes were torn,' he said. Bandipore and its adjacent villages today observed a complete shutdown to protest against the incident. The villagers of Kunan held a protest demonstration in front of the Bandipore Police Station. They were dispersed only after the police assured them of action in the case. The alleged molestation has also been condemned by politicians of the Valley. Former Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed called for a probe into the incident and reiterated the party's demand for withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. 'There should be a high level impartial probe into the incident at Bandipore and the guilty (personnel) should be punished to restore the confidence of the public,' he said. 'The Union and the state Government should take immediate remedial measures and prevent the recurrence of such incidents.' National Conference President Omar Abdullah and CPI leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami too condemned the incident.