Army court awards punishment to 2 soldiers
5 November 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Srinagar: An Army court in north Kashmir has awarded punishment to two soldiers of an intelligence unit of Rashtriya Rifles 57 Bn who had been captured by an angry mob while attempting to outrage the modesty of a young woman in Bandipore area on June 26 this year. According to a Defence spokesman, Naik Kulwant Singh (14419879) S-o Mohan Singh R-o Ramgarh, Jammu, and Naik Joginder Singh (15205987) S-o Baldev Singh R- o Raikot, Ludhiana, Punjab, had been overpowered by one Mohammad Rafeeq and his family members at Patti Kunan, near Baba Gund, in Bandipore area on June 26th with the allegation that the duo in mufti had trespassed into Rafeeq's house and attempted to outrage the modesty of his 17-year-old daughter, Zareena. Soon a multitude of people had gathered, stripped the two soldiers and paraded them to Bandipore town in the form of a procession. The mob had mercilessly beaten up the captured soldiers to the extent that both of them were bleeding when Police took them into custody and registered a criminal case. On the peoples' complaint, case FIR No 122 of 2007, under sections 376 (rape), 511 (molestation) and 147 (trespassing) RPC had been lodged against the two soldiers. Later, on the Army's complaint, Police Station Bandipore also registered case FIR No 123 of 2007, under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 332 (causing grievous injury) and 149 (rioting) against the people who had allegedly paraded the soldiers and manhandled them severely before they had been taken over by Police. Army simultaneously ordered court martial against the accused soldiers which was conducted summarily from October 29 to November 3. Both the soldiers were handed over to Army after medical treatment at Sub District Hospital Bandipore. They were removed from duty, placed under suspension and held in detention during the course of investigation. Even as the Police investigation into the two criminal cases was still underway, Army's court found the soldiers guilty of trespassing. One of the duo was found responsible for making an attempt of molestation on the young woman. Statements of Zareena, her family members and a number of other witnesses were recorded by the Army court. One of the two soldiers, found guilty of the heinous crime, was awarded the punishment of rank demotion as also a term of rigorous imprisonment. His accomplice was severely reprimanded. However, the allegation of rape was not established as the medical report certified that this part of the heinous crime had not occurred on the victim. 'The swift proceeding and exemplary punishment meted out to the accused indicates Army's stand to uphold human rights of Kashmiri Awam and not to shield any person found guilty', a press release issued by headquarters 15 Corps said. It said that Army had identified the rioters and passed on a list of their names to Police Station Bandipore on September 7th. However, the chargesheet was yet to be filed against the locals, it added in an implicit complaint. Police sources confirmed that Police Station Bandipore had received a list of 35 names with a number of photographs on September 7th. They said that in most of the cases, names of the accused did not tally with the photographs and vice versa. Nonetheless, five or six persons were found to have indulged in the criminal act and taking law into their own hands. Sources said that the investigation was in its last stage and the chargesheet against several accused would be filed soon in a court of law. 'In most of such cases in Baramulla, Bandipore, Handwara and Kupwara districts, Police have taken suo moto cognizance and the investigations are in different stages of the process. Law will take its own course and the investigation will be taken to its logical conclusion', DIG North Kashmir, Dr B Srinivas, said. He claimed that the investigation in the Bandipore incident was in its final stage and the same would be completed in near future. He said that a chargesheet would be filed against the accused in a court of law and they would be prosecuted for having taken the law into their own hands.