Indian army has launched an internal probe into the alleged rape of a woman by soldiers in Indian administered Kashmir.
Rukaya Bano alias Lateefa of Manzgam in Kulgam, some 100 kms south of Srinagar, had yesterday alleged that she was abducted and raped by two soldiers for 48 hours.
“It is a criminal act for sure. But, what needs to be known is that the combat uniform is also worn by militants. They also use radio sets and we have inputs that militants have recently bought combat uniform from South Kashmir. We are for a strong and dispassionate investigation into this issue. We want to send a message that army is assisting police and at the same time carrying out its own inquiry into the incident,” a senior army officer in Kashmir Lt Gen Hasnain told media here today.
Asked about possibility of army men’s involvement in the alleged rape, he said, “We are not ruling out this possibility. There could be truth in this and there could be not. As a disciplined, organized and structured force, two army men with uniform cannot remain isolated from a unit and operate independently for 48 hours. This is unheard and unlikely of Army”.
On the allegation that the assailants were dressed in army fatigues, he said, “I do want to clarify this that in Kashmir, (military) uniform is also worn by militants. Besides, I want to make it clear that no army man can remain isolated from his unit for such a long time. There is a possibility of a chink in the armour. As such no option can be ruled out”.
He said the woman has accused someone “but no individual by that name works for us”.
Hasnain announced that army has launched its own investigation and will extend full support to probe being conducted by police. “We are cooperating with police and government departments and have also launched our own investigations,” he said.
He said different versions continue to emerge about the incident and “in next 24 hours you will hear many more versions”. “The woman in the video tape is not talking about army. Instead she has named someone. There is also no mention of army in FIR lodged by police at DH Pora police station in South Kashmir. However, we will do a dispassionate investigation into this and ensure if the allegations are proved we will take strict action,” he said and ruled out any contradiction between Army and police over the issue.