18 armymen who attacked Maharashtra policemen get bail

Nashik: Eighteen Indian Army officers who assaulted policemen and a police station here in Maharashtra Wednesday, were Thursday sent to 14 days' judicial custody but later released on bail, officials said.

Those arrested included 18 lieutenants from among more than 150 army officers involved in two separate incidents of assault of on-duty police personnel and vandalism at the Upanagar police station in the city.

They were produced in a Nashik magistrate court which at first sent them to judicial custody, but later released them on bail.

In the first official reaction Thursday, a defence ministry spokesperson said in Pune that "the reason for the alleged altercation was the alleged detention and manhandling of an officer of the School of Artillery, Deolali, on Jan 13 (Tuesday)".

Nashik Commissioner of Police K.K. Sarangal refuted the army charge and told media persons "this is not the way they should have behaved", referring to Wednesday's attacks.

A defence spokesperson assured that exemplary action will be taken against all those involved in the incidents after a joint investigation with police was completed.

Police nabbed the 18 army officers earlier Thursday.

"We have arrested 18 lieutenants from among the more than 150 army officers involved in yesterday's (Wednesday) incidents," Deputy Commissioner of Police Hemrajsingh Rajput told IANS.

They were charged with assault, rioting, illegal confinement, preventing government servants from doing their duty, as well as damaging and destroying government property.

Rajput said all those involved in the two incidents were officers and lieutenants from the nearby Deolali Camp's School of Artillery.

The assault on police personnel and the Upanagar police station had shaken the Maharashtra police establishment.

A detailed report has been submitted to the director general of police in Mumbai. The defence ministry has also ordered a court of inquiry.

Late Tuesday, Lieutenant Ashish Bagul, who was on leave, and his relative Jayant Narad attacked some policemen over a parking row, police said.

They were also upset over the alleged delay in lodging a police complaint.

While Lt. Bagul was handed over to the army authorities Wednesday morning with a request that action be taken against him, the other man was produced before a court, Rajput said.

The second incident took place Wednesday afternoon when a large group of young officers from the Deolali camp stormed the Upanagar police station.

In an apparent retaliatory move, around 150 armymen, wearing track suits and helmets, assaulted several police personnel and damaged the premises, leaving it looking like a war zone.

At least two women constables sustained grievous injuries. One policewoman, Namrata Desai, who heads the station, was confined and locked up in a room.

Police driver C. Gangurde was beaten up and underwent critical surgery late Wednesday. His condition was reported to be stable Thursday, said Rajput.

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