The army authorities yesterday categorically said that the provocation which led to Tuesday's showdown with the police at Alka Talkies Junction first came from the police.

Meet the press: Colonel Abhijit Mitra from the Southern Command and
CME Deputy Commandant Brigadier SP Nawathe address reporters on
the CME campus in Bopodi. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

Talking to media-persons CME Deputy Commandant Brigadier S P Nawathe said that the Young Officers (YOs), who were asked to stop by the lady police constable, were willing to produce their licences and other relevant documents.

"However, another traffic officer in civil clothes arrived on the spot and said he wanted to take 'revenge' as he was harassed by military authorities for not wearing a helmet in their area a few months ago. This revengeful approach by the police is also not warranted. He also refused to produce his identity card when the Yos demanded him to produce the same," Nawathe said.

Although the CME has promised a thorough inquiry into the matter and stringent action against those found guilty, Nawathe seemed unwilling to acknowledge the unnecessary aggression showed on journalists during the incident.

Media persons present referred to photos carried by several publications clearly showing the YOs mindlessly attacking at cameramen and photographers. A few members of the electronic and print media were beaten up and their cameras smashed by the armymen.

The army has promised to look into compensation demands for the expensive equipment that cost about Rs 3 lakh to 4 lakh. Colonel Abhijit Mitra from the Southern Command said he would "genuinely facilitate compensation demands" with the relevant army authorities. "We do not undermine the professional respect and material loss which the journalists suffered during the entire incident," he said.

On the Court of Inquiry, Nawathe said the army has always been steadfast in its judgments in disciplinary cases.  "History shows that verdicts have always been quick and no officer has been spared for any wrongdoing. The YOs will be tried as per the Army Act," Nawathe said.