Kunan villagers in north Kashmir's Bandipora beat up two soldiers and paraded them naked in the markets. The villagers caught the soldiers on Tuesday evening while attempting to allegedly rape a 17-year-old girl.
The police registered cases against a Major and Lance Naik after the residents staged protest demonstrations on Wednesday. An Army spokesperson said a court of enquiry had been set up to try the soldiers.
The residents alleged that Major Joginder Singh and Lance Naik Diljeet Singh of the 57-RR, in civilian attire, entered the house of one Mohammad Rafiq Gujjri. They then said they were terrorists and asked the family for food. "There were no male members in the house then. They asked my mother to leave the room and tore away my clothes. But I resisted and raised an alarm," the girl, Shazia, told reporters. "Soon, villagers came rushing to our house. The soldiers jumped out of the window but were caught," she said.
Shazia alleged the two had attempted to rape her on two previous occasions as well. "But I did not disclose it out of fear," she said.
The villagers beat up the soldiers, stripped and shaved off their heads. After smearing soot on their faces, the soldiers were paraded naked as the mob shouted slogans against the Army. The police fired teargas shells and fired in the air to take the soldiers into custody.
Army spokesman Colonel Manjinder Singh said the soldiers were on an intelligence-gathering mission in the village. He said the allegation was "fabricated" but added that the Corps Commander had ordered a court of enquiry. Deputy Commissioner Shaikh Mushtaq said the civil administration "will jointly probe the incident" with the Army.
The incident evoked angry reactions from political parties in the state. The Peoples' Democratic Party demanded an impartial probe into the incident. "It is a serious incident and needs to be probed at a high level," PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayed said.
The Awami Action Committee of Mirwaiz Umer Farooq alleged that security guards of MLA Usman Majeed had opened fire on local residents who were protesting against the soldiers. The hardline faction of the Hurriyat Conference condemned the incident, alleging "Indian forces are using rape as a war weapon".
Shabir Ahmad Shah of the Democratic Freedom Party sought the international community's intervention to prevent such instances in Kashmir.