Tinsukia: Three Army personnel including a lieutenant colonel rank officer has been accused of assaulting a sub-inspector rank officer and a constable of Assam police on Monday.
The 59-year-old officer, Guneswar Kumar, officer-in-charge (OC) of Namtola police station in Charaideo district, has been admitted to Assam Medical College and Hospital in Dibrugarh after being referred by civil hospital in Sonari. Constable Amin Hussain was also allegedly assaulted and restrained.
When contacted, superintendent of Charaideo police Anand Mishra said, Army personnel from Nagaland tried to carry out some operation in Namtola area in the district without keeping the local police in loop. “First they were confronted by local people and then local police, which was conducting a naka checking nearby, stepped in,” he said.
“First they were confronted by local people and then local police which was conducting a naka checking nearby. The army personnel were in civil uniform and armed. They even snatched the official phone of the OC blaming that he tried to record the incident and they did all that on the road in front of scores of onlookers,” Mishra said, adding, ”The OC was assaulted by the army personnel in the process of snatching the phone and a constable was also restrained and assaulted”.
“OC sustained injuries on his shoulder and reported chest pain. He recently had a heart surgery and reportedly got hit on those very points. His blood pressure has shot up and was found visibly assaulted with uniform pulled out and shattered,” added Mishra.
The officers have been identified as Lt Col Aditya Ghatage, Major Prakhar Tyagi and Captain Sachin Vasistha.
Mishra said that the police have apprehended and detained the army personnel involved in the incident. “The phone was recovered and seized from their possession,” he said.
A case has been registered and many local witnesses have come forward, he added.
Mishra said that the Commanding Officer appeared from Jorhat at Sonari police station around 12.30 am and apologised for their unprofessional conduct in violation of all standing operating procedures (SoP) and promised full cooperation in the investigation.
Hence, the three accused officers have been handed over after medical check-up to the colonel on PR Bonds submitted individually by each one of them. Mishra added, “Before being allowed to go, all three accused officers have been served with notice under sec 41(A) CrPC.”
According to sources, a case has been registered at Namtola police station under section 341/353/395/325/294/506/34 of the Indian Penal Code.
The Army, however, has a total different story about the incident to present.
Talking to EastMojo, a source in the army said, based on an input regarding movement of ULFA (I) cadres, a covert team of army in civil uniform moved to Namtola from Nagaland. “Once the information was corroborated, a team of army in uniform joined them and they together detained two persons including an auto-ricksaw driver for questioning,” the source said.
“The Army took them to Namtola police station, close to the spot, and requested the OC to provide police representative to catch another auto-ricksaw in which two suspected ULFA (I) cadres have moved,” the source said, adding, ”The OC denied to give police personnel awaiting SP’s approval or confirmation.”
When the officers requested on the grounds that the ULFA (I) cadres will flee, the OC took out his mobile and started recording. “The army officer requested him not to record as they are from Indian army and their identities will be compromised,” the source said.
He added, “As the OC stopped the recording and put the phone in his pocket, meanwhile, a constable intervened, shouted at army officers on how can they ask the OC to stop the recording. The OC again took out the phone and attempted recording after which one of the army officer snatched the phone and said that they are going to the SP to report the incident and left for Sonari police station.”
They called the SP and informed the incident before leaving the police station and shared details of the auto-ricksaw which fled and was later intercepted by Sonari police, he added.
“Meanwhile, the OC called the SP and alleged that army officers have assaulted him, hence taking the incident into a totally different twist,” the source said and added, “The OC came to Sonari PS with the SP where army team was present. At Sonari PS, few police constable physically misbehaved with the army officers thinking them being assaulted the OC, and are now blaming army.”
The army spruces pointed out that army is here to assist police and administration in maintaining law and order and counter insurgency operations.
“Since the OC of Namtola police station, who had a bypass surgery done last year, got emotional with the army officer snatching his phone, his blood pressure might have shot up. He was admitted to AMCH after referred by a local doctor, resulting in the flaring of the incident. Though, army officers has no direct role in the OC’s health, which may be a result of emotional impact, we regret the incident and pray for his speedy recovery.”
In March, the Assam government extended Arms Forces (Special Powers) Act,1958. In an official communication, the state government stated, “A review of the latest law and order situation in the entire state of Assam in the past six months indicates the presence of extremist elements in certain parts of the state, even though some of the extremists groups have surrendered en masse, and the armed outfit may attempt to exploit the law and order situation that may arise due to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, passed by Parliament of India on 11th December, 2019, and to attempt to lure misguided youths into their fold.
“Therefore, as per the power conferred under Section 3 of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958, the government of Assam has declared the entire state of Assam as disturbed area up to 6 months beyond 28-02-2020, unless withdrawn earlier.”
The act that gives empowers security forces to conduct operations, arrest anyone anywhere without prior notice has been continuing in Assam since November 1990. However, the armed forces, under AFSPA and SOP are mandated to involve local police in their operations.
The Act empowers security forces to conduct operations, arrest anyone anywhere without prior notice has been continuing in Assam since November 1990. However, the armed forces, under AFSPA and SOP are mandated to involve local police in their operations.
“The auto-ricksaw was intercepted within 10 minutes after the information was received and such a small operation did not demand a covert operation as claimed by the army. Those onboard, including the driver, were local youths and police did not found their links with Ulfa (I) after which let were allowed to go,” a police source said.