While the police on Thursday rebuffed the army’s claim that an intelligence input about the presence of militants in a hotel in Leh led to its men frisking the tourists, sources on Friday told Kashmir Dispatch that the ‘cause and the motive behind the army action was quite uncanny’.
At the heart of the incident lied a physical brawl between an army colonel and police inspector which led to the incident, sources said.
A senior most official privy to both the army and police said more than a week ago a colonel along with his son went to Leh airport where they had an altercation with local police inspector over the issue of frisking.
“The colonel wanted that both of them should be released without frisking. The inspector refused and later both of them entered into a verbal brawl. Then there was exchange of blows as well,” the official said.
“During the incident, the colonel and his son got injured. They rushed to local police station and pressed them to register an FIR,” he added.
“The police refused to concede to the demand of colonel and his son. But they (police) promised to initiate a departmental action against the inspector,” he remarked.
Later, during a series of meetings between the police and army officials the issue was resolved, he added.
According to the source, the colonel came to know that the inspector frequented a hotel in the area.
“They thought that it was a good opportunity to settle the score with the inspector,” he said.
“On the intervening night of May 30 and May 31, they barged into several hotels looking for the inspector. In the meantime they barged into Hotel Masarovar, Holiday Inn and Keddar Guest House. The tourists were intimidated and harassed,” he said.
However, a senior official in the Army’s Northern Command told Kashmir Dispatch that there was a miscommunication between the army and the police that led to the incident.
“While there were intelligence inputs about the presence of militants, the army should have taken police into confidence,” he added.
Police had registered a case against unidentified army troopers for allegedly entering three hotels during night in Leh and harassing tourists, including foreigners, earlier this week.
The incident took place during the intervening night of May 30 and 31 when army personnel from 3 Division based at Kharu in Leh area of Ladakh region barged into many hotels, official sources had told Press Trust of India.
“Troopers carrying weapons and wearing uniforms without name badges, questioned the tourists without taking local police into confidence as required under law,” sources had said.
One of the tourists had taken pictures of the army troopers and complained to local police about harassment, the sources said.
A defence spokesperson, while denying harassment to the tourists by the army in Leh, had told Press Trust of India that army had stepped up vigil in Leh region following intelligence inputs that militants were planning to disrupt the tourism in the area.
Reacting to the statement by the defence spokesperson, the police on Thursday rebuffed the army saying there were no militants present in Leh.
“Taking cognizance of a statement of defence spokesman and as quoted by PTI the Police want to inform that there is no presence of militants in Leh,” a spokesperson of the police had said.
“The Police is looking into the motives of the army personnel who searched some hotels in Leh during the intervening night of 30/31.05.2011, since the Armed Force Special Power Act is not in force in Leh,” the police spokesperson had said.
Meanwhile, police officials refused to comment.
-via Kashmir Dispatch