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Soldiers vandalise police station to free colleagues

New Year celebrations in Kolkata are marred by an ugly incident involving armed army personnel.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2007 17:00 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

New Year celebrations in Kolkata turned ugly when armed army personnel barged into a police station early Monday and assaulted policemen as they freed colleagues arrested earlier on charges of attempted molestation.

In New Delhi, the Indian Army said it had taken "serious note" of the incident and ordered an inquiry into the fracas.

While the army men freed a major and a captain arrested on molestation charges, nine others in the lock up on Kolkata's Park Street boulevard also escaped in the melee.

West Bengal Chief Secretary Amit Kiran Deb has written to the defence ministry describing what happened.

"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 (DCP) 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 hospitalised. The army personnel allegedly even whipped the cops with their belts.

Said DCP Kumar: "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."

In New Delhi, the Indian Army said it had taken "serious note of the incident" and had ordered a court of inquiry, headed by a brigadier.

"We are getting complete details of the two incidents as to who was involved in what manner. There is no question of sparing anyone. We will take whatever action is required after receiving the report of the court of inquiry," Indian Army spokesperson Colonel SK Sakhuja said.

A defence ministry spokesperson in Kolkata reiterated those found guilty would not be spared.

"If the major and captain arrested on molestation and assault charges are found guilty, they will be punished severely," said Wing Commander RK Das.

"The punishment depends on degree of involvement. They (those involved in ransacking) can be demoted, they can lose seniority or be punished otherwise," said Das.

He said the two men arrested by the police belonged to the 3 Madras Regiment based at Salt Lake in Kolkata.

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