Assam Rifles, India’s oldest paramilitary force, has escaped by a whisker yet another potentially bruising controversy after a woman personnel of the force was accused of outraging the modesty of a woman from Manipur.
The woman and the Assam Rifles are learnt to have resolved the issue. But an FIR was registered by the police and on paper, the investigation into the incident is still on.
A FIR under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocity Act, 1989, was lodged following the incident which allegedly took place on November 18. Under the Act, if proved guilty, stringent punishment is prescribed for hurting the dignity of the victim.
The incident came to light after Churachandpur district based Kuki Women’s Organisation for Human Rights (KWOHR) came out with a statement condemning the incident.
On November 20, KWOHR issued a statement alleging that a woman personnel of the 12 Assam Rifles was involved in molesting and outraging the modesty of the victim at Manipur’s Tengnoupal district in Moreh.
Although Assam Rifles has not issued an official statement denying the incident, an officer who did not wish to be quoted said the incident had been resolved by holding a meeting with the Hill Tribal Council.
The Kuki Organisation for Human Rights Trust chairman T. Lunkim said, “The victim’s family and the Assam Rifles reached an agreement and they asked me to sign as a witness.” When asked about the content of the agreement, he said, “I don’t remember. It was long back”.
On November 21, the Tengnoupal district based Hill Tribal Council issued a press statement stating that it was all a “misunderstanding” because the frisking and checking was done by a Mahila Rifleman GD and not a male personnel.
The Council “summoned” both the parties for negotiations on November 20 evening. After much deliberation, it was agreed to follow the jury’s order as per the custom and tradition of the Kukis.
The statement, signed by the chairman of the Hill Tribal Council’s judiciary Joseph Ginkhosei and vice chairman PS Gangte, said as per the Kuki tradition, a “compromising feast was laid after the customary fine was imposed.”
However, local police said that investigation into the incident was still on and every aspect of the investigation is being covered. When contacted, the Moreh SP Vikram Singh said, “the police is investigating the matter; forensic has been done and a case under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocity Act has been registered”.
Police sources confirmed that in a statement signed by KWOHR general secretary Kimneihoi Lhungdim, it was alleged that on the “pretext of frisking”, the a woman jawan from Assam Rifles outraged the modesty of the woman “by inserting her finger deep inside the private part”.
The victim was apparently taken to an isolated place later, claimed Lhungdim in the statement, alleging further that four AR personnel, including two men and two women, “forcefully undressed” her and this was allegedly captured on camera.
The Assam Rifles has been involved in several controversies. Following the Manorama murder case in 2004, an inquiry report submitted to the Supreme Court had admitted brutal and merciless torture by a Assam Rifles team.