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Armymen vandalise police station to free Major, Capt
Officers held on eve-teasing charges
Tribune News Service & PTI

Kolkata, January 1
Brandishing automatic weapons, a platoon of armymen in uniform vandalised a police station in the metropolis and forcibly freed a Major and a Captain arrested on the charge of eve-teasing in a drunken state from a posh hotel here during New Year celebrations today.

As many as 11 policemen were injured, including one seriously, in the vandalism at the Park Street police station, DCP (South) Ajay Kumar told reporters here.

The armymen ransacked the police station after Maj C.P Singh and Capt Mahesh of the Madras Regiment were arrested for eve-teasing in a nearby 5-star hotel.

The arrests were made on complaints by women guests, which were supported by the security manager of the hotel.

This angered the armymen who drove down in three trucks to the police station where they beat up the policemen on duty, snapped telephone lines, damaged radio telephony, broke furniture and tore files before freeing their two officers from custody at gun-point, the DCP said.

He said two hotel security staff members were assaulted by Major Singh when they tried to prevent him from misbehaving with women at the banquet hall late last night.

''We will see the end of it,'' an angry Kolkata police Commissioner Prasun Mukherjee fumed.

DCP (Hq) P.K Chatterjee said legal action might be taken against the army personnel.

The Eastern Command has ordered a court of inquiry.

A case was registered against the two army officers with the police station under Sections of the IPC 354 (outrage of modesty), 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (hurt) and 427 (mischief) on the basis of complaints received from the hotel.

The DCP said around at 1.30 am, an Army officer Lieut Col Pratap Singh and a Major of the 3rd Madras Regiment, accompanied by armymen armed with automatic weapons, arrived at the police station and began ransacking the office and assaulting the policemen on duty.

Sub-inspector of Police B. Gharui was injured when he was hit by a rifle butt and had to be admitted to police hospital, he said.

The armymen snatched the keys of the lock-up at gunpoint and freed the two arrested officers, he said.

Nine others, arrested for eve-teasing and other charges, also escaped from the police station in the melee.

Four Army officers, however, remained behind at the police station "to negotiate with the police on the incident." Chief Secretary A.K Deb said stern action would be taken against the army personnel and he had taken up the issue with the authorities.

According to Joint Commissioner Kuldip Singh, police would seek a court directive for the hand over of the two Army officers immediately.

The defence authorities later sent Col M.C Barua to the Park Street police station.

I have come for a discussion, Colonel Barua said but refused to comment on the vandalism at the police station.

The incident caused much uproar both in the state administration and the police. On the basis of a formal complaint by the Calcutta Police chief, Mr Prasun Mukherjee, the two Army officers were arrested and handed over to the Army authorities at Fort Williams.

The Army spokesman at the Eastern Command said a thorough inquiry was being conducted at the highest level into the incident and the guilty would be firmly dealt with as per law. He apologised on behalf of the Army for the misconduct of the armymen.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh was also informed about the unfortunate incident. The Defence Minister, Mr A.K Antony, assured the Chief Minister, Mr Buddhadeb Bhattacha jee, that firm action would be taken against the culprits.

The Minister for External Affairs, Mr Pranab Mukherjee, who was a former Defence Minister, regretted that the Army personnel could misbehave in such a way.

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