The tussle between the Arunachal police and the army’s 2nd Arunachal Scouts scaled up on 8 November, after the IPS association jumped in to take a shot at the Army by sharing a now viral video which shows the concerned Commanding Officer (CO) threatening a policeman for having initiated an inquiry into two soldiers from the battalion, who allegedly misbehaved with civilians and policemen on 2 November.
The IPS’s tweet, in a sarcastic jibe aimed at the Army, noted how the police officer being threatened ‘acted with maturity’ and kept his cool.
As the crisis rapidly reaches new levels, here is a timeline of the events as they unfolded – and the varying accounts of the police and army.
On 2 November, soldiers from the army’s 2nd Arunachal Scouts allegedly misbehaved with police personnel and civilians at the Buddha Mahotsav celebrations in the state’s Bomdila, situated in the West Kameng district. Five FIRs have reportedly been lodged against the accused soldiers, prompting the Arunachal police to initiate an inquiry against the soldiers.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Deputy Commissioner Sonal Swaroop and SP Raja Banthia said the two soldiers were brought in for a medical examination, which showed they were intoxicated. Following the incident, an army major came in and apologised, adding that the accused soldiers would cooperate with any investigation, they said.
However, Scroll.in quoted defence spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Harsh Wardhan Pande blaming the police, stating that the two soldiers had been beaten up by the cops once they were picked up.
"“They were severely beaten up in the police lock up despite they informing them that they are from Indian Army.”"
Banthia denied this charge to The Indian Express, stating that whatever force was used on the soldiers was because “they were misbehaving with women personnel and those personnel used force in self-defence.”
According to a defence communique, accessed by Zee News, the commanding officer of the battalion, on 3 November, met with the SP in an attempt to defuse the situation. However, the cops misbehaved with the CO’s guard, instigating a scuffle between the two parties.
Meanwhile, a video on social media, purportedly from the same day, shows a group of soldiers marching towards the police station led by an army officer.
Really worrisome development in Bomdila. Jawans led by officers of 2nd Arunachal Scouts going rogue; vandalised police station while hurling abuses at the Deputy Commissioner and Superindent of Police. These are the defenders of our nation.. Shame! pic.twitter.com/PB1Zcq8aZq— Kenter Joya (@kenterjoya) November 3, 2018
Another video, tweeted by the IPS Association, shows the CO threatening a policeman in connection with the case – saying, “Be very careful while you move out of Bomdila. This is a direct threat to you. Take it as a warning. You dare touch my boy again, any time in future, and see what I make out of you”.
An @adgpi CO openly threatening civil authorities in #Bomdila deserves condemnation. Unlike him, Civil Authorities acted with maturity and lived up to the Sardar's advice, "A policeman who loses his cool ceases to be a police officer".#DemandCorrectiveAction #ArmyNotAboveLaw pic.twitter.com/f5PcxnUI6v— IPS Association (@IPS_Association) November 8, 2018
The Quint was unable to independently verify the veracity of both the videos.
Quoting SP Banthia, The Indian Express reported that the CO came in with a horde of soldiers and the major who had met the policemen on Friday. While the communique states that the scuffle within the police station broke out because of the cops, Banthia claims that it was the CO who abused the policemen.
"“The CO abused policemen and threatened to kill the OC. He was demanding that the OC apologise to the battalion.”"
The soldiers then reportedly left, only to return with more soldiers in trucks, allegedly armed with light machine guns (LMGs). The policemen called in the CRPF for additional support, Banthia told The Indian Express.
"“The soldiers vandalised our property, broke glasses of our vehicles and threw stones. I informed the DC and as she arrived, stones were thrown and abuses hurled at her.”"
DC Swaroop, who is also the district magistrate, meanwhile alleged that the troops also harmed a bystander – a civilian – brutally thrashing him.
President of the Indian Civil and Administrative Services Association Rakesh Srivastava on 6 November, penned a letter to the Defense Secretary, urging the ministry to take action against the Army unit.
President Indian Civil and Administrative Services (C) Association, Rakesh Srivastava has requested Defense Secretary to take action against the culprit Army unit that went on rampage against DC Kameng Dr. Sonal Swarup and Superintendent of Police at Bomdila, Arunachal Pradesh. pic.twitter.com/fzXO46QXbD— Shah Faesal (@shahfaesal) November 6, 2018
On 7 November, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited Bomdila with Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and took stock of the situation.
Speaking to PTI, Rijiju said:
"“The Defence Minister and I looked into the ongoing conflict between the Army and State police personnel. I appeal everyone not to treat it as Army versus police and civil administration issue.”"
Mr. Rijiju, who hails from Arunachal Pradesh, said the unfortunate incident that happened at Bomdila on 2 November should be settled amicably through proper understanding.
“Both the Army and the police are serving the nation with utmost dedication. An incident can’t be allowed to tarnish the image of the great institutions,” he said.
Sitharaman and Rijiju were visiting Arunachal Pradesh to celebrate Diwali along the the soldiers posted in the areas along the Sino-Indian border.
(With inputs from PTI)
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