Seven policemen were injured when they were allegedly thrashed by Army personnel after the cops stopped private vehicles carrying the soldiers in civil dress last evening at a checkpost in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, police said. The police registered a case against the personnel attached to the 24 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) unit of the Army after the policemen, including an assistant sub-inspector, who were on Amarnath Yatra duty, were injured in the alleged assault by the armymen.
Director General of Police (DGP), Jammu and Kashmir, S P Vaid, took up the matter with the Corps Commander of the Army’s Chinar Corps, Lieutenant General J S Sandhu.
The Army, however, today said it had “amicably” resolved with the police the issue arising over the incident and termed it as a “minor altercation”. A defence spokesperson here said measures had been taken to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
The incident took place when private vehicles, carrying Army personnel in civil dress, were returning from the Baltal base camp of the yatra and were signalled to stop at the Sonamarg checkpost. However, the vehicles did not stop and kept proceeding towards Ganderbal.
Policemen at Sonamarg sent a message to the next checkpost at Gund to stop the vehicles, officials said. They said as the vehicles reached Gund, policemen manning the checkpost stopped them and did not let them proceed further as the cut-off time for yatra vehicles had already passed.
Police told the armymen that there were strict directions not to allow any movement of yatra vehicles after the cut-off time as that could put them at risk.
However, the soldiers called their colleagues from the 24 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) unit of the Army, who reached the spot and thrashed the policemen, the officials said. According to eyewitness accounts, which form a part of the police case, the locals came to the rescue of the policemen.
They added that the armymen then barged into the Gund police station, ransacked it, damaging the records kept there, and assaulted the on-duty policemen.
The armymen allegedly damaged desktops and laptops at the police station, besides tearing off the Daily Diary (DD), they said. “DGP @spvaid has taken up the #Gund Ganderbal incident with Corp Commander who is looking into it and has assured action (sic),” the state police said on Twitter.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah demanded action against the Army personnel involved in the incident. “Why would the army beat up JK police personnel in a police station? This requires immediate clarification/action by the authorities (sic),” he wrote on Twitter.
However, the Army appeared to play down the incident.
“A minor altercation took place last night between some Army personnel returning from the Amarnath Yatra in civil dress and Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel at Gund. There was no major injury and the matter has been resolved by the personal intervention of senior officers,” the defence spokesman said. Security has been further stepped up in the wake of a terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims in south Kashmir’s Anantang district on July 10.
Eight pilgrims, including seven women, were killed in the terror attack.