Guwahati: Assam Rifles (AR), the oldest paramilitary force guarding the India-Myanmar border in Manipur, is in news for all the wrong reasons.
A day after the Assam Rifles refuted allegations by an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of “physical assault, molestation, harassment and abuse” by 12 AR personnel at Khudengthabi check-post along Imphal-Moreh highway in Tengnoupal district, the officer said she has “full faith in the SIT (Special Investigation Team) investigating the case”.
“The case is under investigation, an SIT is investigating it, in which I have full faith. I prefer to refrain from making comments as the matter is sub-judice,” said the officer posted as SDPO Yairipok. She had lodged a written complaint at the Tengnoupal police station on January 19 against an AR jawan on frisking duty at the check-post.
In an official statement released on Tuesday, the Assam Rifles said that “the incident happened in broad daylight (2pm) 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 the other way round wherein she was shouting at a jawan who was on bona fide duty, and her four escorts trying to force their way through by creating a commotion, and avoiding scanning of the vehicle. It is a sheer case of misuse of official position, power and arrogance shown by the SDPO to blatantly flout the rules, and possibly avoid search of suspicious goods loaded in her vehicle,” the AR said, describing the allegations as “baseless, fabricated, false and malicious”.
In her complaint, the officer stated that despite offering a “self-search and vehicle search”, the jawan “was not interested in it, and started physically assaulting and molesting” her.
The complaint also mentioned that the jawan was “thrashing, beating, pushing” her escort personnel when they tried to intervene. The officer added that the jawan even “tried to slap her” but was stopped by her escort personnel.
Assam Rifles said the officer had “refused to cooperate with the security forces” and was moving with her escort “in civil clothes with their personal weapon, without any escort vehicle outside her area of jurisdiction”.
“The security grid along NH-102 has been further strengthened due to the upcoming Republic Day, with instructions to all check-posts along the highway to be on extra vigil and high alert. It is pertinent to mention that the movement of such vehicles, with occupants in civil dress with weapons, in a counter-insurgency area, and without prior intimation to other security agencies, has serious operational ramifications,” the AR said, adding that “under no circumstances, the dignity and pride of any individual will be bantered or unbraced”.
The AR Public Relations Officer (PRO) said detailed investigation has found that the officer “on official duty entered Myanmar illegally, and bought suspicious and unidentified goods from across the border (Namphalong/Tamu)”.
The official statement said an investigation is required to ascertain how “a central government servant on bona fide duty can cross over to Myanmar, flaunting all Free Movement Regime (FMR) rules, and then cover her allegations on pretext of official duty”.
The report says the AR had made the highest seizure, of more than Rs 500 crore contraband, in 2019 from the Permanent Vehicle Check Point (PVCP) in Khudengthabi.
“The seizures during the year 2019 are more than the combined seizures of last five years from Moreh-Imphal axis by Assam Rifles personnel, and especially by PVCP to safeguard the youth of Manipur from the menace of drug abuse,” it stated.
The paramilitary force said that evidence has been gathered in the form of a video footage of the officer entering Myanmar and loading her vehicle with “suspicious goods”. However, AR did not elaborate further on what “suspicious goods” could be in this case.