Army-JKP at Loggerheads: Report

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New Delhi—As the Kashmir Valley remains on the boil, the relations between Indian Army and Jammu and Kashmir police in the Valley are showing signs of strain.

The Army is apparently disturbed over FIRs being registered against their personnel and the subsequent arrests by the local police, which, it claimed has upset the working relationship between the two forces, CNN-News 18 reported on Tuesday.

The contention between the two has reached a stage where Col Samaresh Chatterjee, Commanding Officer of the 12 Rashtriya Rifles, has shot a letter to the J&K Director General of Police. The September 1 dated letter reproduced by CNN-News18 on its website complains about “high handedness of the local police” in Bannihal town and their “anti-Army sentiments”.

The CO refers to an incident of September 1, when a vehicle crashed into the rear of a military truck, resulting into the death of two civilians in the car.

Chatterjee says that the driver of the truck was taken into military custody under the Army Act, but police officials from Banihal insisted on taking the driver in their custody.

“It may be appreciated that in the instant case, the police was dealing with trained soldiers of a disciplined force and not petty criminals who could have escaped the law,” said the CO. The officer further pointed out that the police officers were adequately assured that the driver would be made available for investigation, whenever sought.

In his three-page letter, the CO contended that “dictated by ego”, the Banihal officers lodged an FIR against Chatterjee and his second-in-command Major Deepak Suyal under Section 353 of the RPC for allegedly using force and obstructing public officials from performing their duty.

“This was also a display of ‘anti-Army sentiments’ seemingly being nurtured by the present set of recently posted police officers in Banihal. The malice is gauged by the fact that not only did the police officers lodge an FIR, but also deliberately issued a press brief, maligning the reputation of senior Army officers including one holding the rank of a Colonel,” Chatterjee’s letter read.

The Commanding Officer further urged the state DGP to intervene, so that an “excellent working relationship between the two organizations” could be restored. He also emphasized that such incidents affected the morale and motivation of the security personnel, diverting their attention from the primary task.

The letter also recalled another incident in April this year, when the local police kept an Army sepoy in police custody for over a week and the Army was compelled to move the Jammu and Kashmir High Court.

In this case, Sepoy Amit Kumar Yadav was driving a truck when his vehicle hit a motorcycle, killing a Kashmiri youth Aadil Ahmed Sheikh. The next moment he found himself in a police lock up under charges of causing death due to rash and negligent driving.

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