New Year celebrations on Kolkata's Park Street boulevard turned ugly when a group of armed army personnel barged into a police station early Monday and assaulted policemen in a bid to free colleagues arrested hours earlier from a hotel on charges of attempted molestation.
While the army men freed the major and captain arrested on molestation charges, nine others in the lock up also escaped in the melee.
West Bengal Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb has written to the defence ministry on the issue.
"Armed with SLRs, about 20 army personnel in uniform, including Lieutenant Colonel Pratap Singh and Major Kavi, came in three vehicles — two Gypsys and a Mahindra — and barged into the Park Street police station and beat up at least 11 cops," said Deputy Commissioner of Police Ajay Kumar.
"They ransacked the room of the additional officer-in-charge, broke furniture, wireless sets and snapped telephone wires. The cops sustained bleeding injuries," he said.
"They abused us in filthy language," said the sentry at the police station gate.
Policeman Bidhan Katua sustained serious injuries in the attack and was hospitalized. The army personnel allegedly even caned the cops with belts.
"The two army personnel who were arrested from a hotel a little before when one of them tried to molest a woman in a star hotel and put in the lock up of Park Street police station were freed by the rampaging army men. The arrested army personnel had also earlier assaulted the security men of the hotel when they tried to resist the molestation," Kumar said.
The defence ministry said it was treating the matter seriously.
"We have ordered a high-level inquiry and if the major and captain arrested on molestation and assault charges are found guilty, they will be punished severely," defence ministry spokesperson Wing Commander RK Das said.
"The punishment depends on degree of involvement. They (those involved in ransacking) can be demoted, they can lose seniority or punished otherwise," said Das.
He said the two men arrested by the police were identified as those belonging to the 3 Madras Regiment based at Salt Lake in Kolkata.