New Delhi: The Assam Rifles has said it categorically refutes the allegations levelled by a woman IPS officer that she had been molested by a jawan on duty at a checkpoint on the India-Myanmar border. Calling the charges “fallacious & misguided”, the paramilitary force said there is video evidence that the 2016-batch officer had “illegally” crossed over into the neighbouring country and loaded her vehicle with “suspicious” goods.
The Assam Rifles, which takes care of the security along the India-Myanmar border, alluded that the officer lodged the FIR after her vehicle was stopped by Assam Rifles for checking in full public view.
“It is a sheer case of misuse of official position, power and arrogance shown by the SDPO to blatantly flout the rules and possibly avoiding search of suspicious goods loaded in her vehicle…,” the paramilitary force said in a statement.
— The Assam Rifles (@official_dgar) January 21, 2020
In the FIR, the IPS officer posted as the sub-divisional police officer in a Manipur district accused Rifleman P.K. Pandey of molesting her at a checkpoint near Moreh, a town on the India-Myanmar border, Sunday.
When contacted, she refused to speak on the matter.
“The matter is sub judice and I will not be saying anything further,” she told ThePrint.
She has also lodged a separate complaint with the Manipur State Commission for Women against the rifleman and his commanding officer, who she accused of intimidating her.
ThePrint had reported Tuesday night about the incident.
Officer wanted jawan to be ‘hit 10 times with shoes’
The statement by the paramilitary force said: “On detailed investigation, it has come to notice that allegedly Miss (name withheld) on official duty entered Myanmar illegally and bought suspicious and unidentified goods from across the border (Namphalong/ Tamu). Video footage of her entering Myanmar and subsequently loading her so called official vehicle with suspicious goods is available with Assam Rifle, which exposes her blatant lie in her complaint that she was on official duty.”
It added, “Can a central government servant on bonafide duty cross over to Myanmar flaunting all FMR (Free Movement Regime) rules and then cover her allegations on pretext of official duty needs further investigation.”
The statement said a formal request to the officer by the Commandant, 12 Assam Rifles, and Deputy Inspector General, Headquarter 26 Sector Assam Rifles, to amicably resolve the matter did not receive affirmative response.
To the “utter surprise” of everyone, it said, the officer demanded “Jawan ko Mere Samne Jhukake Dus Joote Maron Tab Main Apology Accept Karungi” (Bring the jawan before me, make him bend down and hit him with shoes 10 times. Only then I will accept the apology).
Assam Rifles lists sequence of events at Moreh checkpoint
The Assam Rifles statement said a white TATA Sumo (MN01G6243) returning from Moreh bypassed the designated scanning lane around 2 pm Sunday and also jumped the vehicle queue at the Permanent Vehicle Check Point (PVCP) in Khudengthabi, resulting in commotion and inconvenience to other passengers.
The vehicle was stopped by the troops, and its passengers were asked for their identification, a normal course of action, it said.
“On being enquired about the identity of the passengers and reasons for bypassing the scanning and jumping the queue, the lady alongwith the armed male escorts all in civil dress started arguing in an ignoble and indecorous language which is unbecoming of a uniformed soldier. This was possibly with an aim to avoid checking of the unidentified and suspicious stores loaded in the vehicle,” the statement by Assam Rifles read.
It added that despite numerous requests from the troops of Assam Rifles, the officer refused to divulge her identity and rather asked the personnel on duty, “don’t you know me?”.
“At this moment, the lady sitting in co driver seat started clicking photographs of PVCP which was objected by Rfn PK Pandey. However, she persisted & continued clicking photographs which is against the laid down norms,” the statement read.
It added, “The high headedness and colorable exercise of power displayed by the lady officer at a sensitive post of PVCP is against the ethics of any uniformed soldier. The least that could have been done by the lady is to cooperate with the Security Forces and provide the identity as asked which could have avoided such unwarranted incident as claimed by her.”
It also pointed out that the officer and her escort were moving in civil clothes with their personal weapon without any escort vehicle outside her area of jurisdiction.
“The incident happened in broad daylight (1400 hr) in front of multiple agencies. It is unimaginable that a jawan tried to molest, physically assault or beat an IPS officer. In fact it was other way round wherein she was shouting on a jawan who was on bonafide duty and her four escorts trying to force their way through by creating commotion with jawan on duty and avoiding scanning of the vehicle,” the Assam Rifles said.
It added that the security grid along NH-102 has been further strengthened due to the upcoming Republic Day with instructions to all checkposts along NH 102 to be on extra vigil and high alert.
“It is pertinent to mention that move of such vehicles with occupants in civil dress with weapons in Counter Insurgency area and without prior intimation to other security agencies has serious operational ramifications,” the statement said.