Army Major Gogoi detained by police after scuffle in Srinagar hotel

Srinagar: An Army Major, Nitin Leetul Gogoi, whose decision to tie a civilian to the bonnet of his vehicle in Kashmir last year sparked a row, was on Wednesday briefly detained by the police after an altercation broke out at a hotel where he allegedly wanted to enter with an 18-year-old woman, according to a police official.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police has initiated an inquiry into the entire incident. Gogoi told the police he had come for a “source meeting”, the official claimed. The incident happened this morning when Major Gogoi along with his driver, also an armyman, and the woman approached the front desk of a hotel at Dalgate to check-in, the official said.

The booking was made on-line in the name of Leetul Gogoi for two guests for one night, the police official, who did not want to be identified, told PTI. According to the police, which recorded statements of the hotel staff as well as the three persons, the Major was informed that he could not enter the room with the accompanying woman which led to an altercation between the staff and Gogoi’s driver.

Immediately, other hotel staff members caught hold of the army officer and his driver and called the police. Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Range) Swayam Prakash Pani ordered a probe into the incident by Superintendent of Police (North). Pani has directed that the report be submitted at the earliest, the official said. Police have asked for the hotel’s CCTV footage as well as the room reservation form filled by the Major, as part of its probe. Srinagar-based Corps Commander Lt Gen A K Bhatt was apprised of the situation, the official said. However, the official said the police has not registered any case.

Asked for a comment, Army sources in New Delhi said the future course would be decided once police investigations were over and circumstances become clear. A team of Major Gogoi’s Army unit arrived along with Military Police and the two were handed over by the local police after recording their statements, the official said. The Major claimed it was a ‘source meeting’, the police official added.

The “sobbing woman” told the police that she knew the driver of the army officer and had accompanied him to Srinagar, the official added. Gogoi had hit the headlines last year in April when he tied a local Farooq Ahmed Dar to his jeep and paraded him through 28 villages in Budgam district apparently to escape the stone pelting. The Army had defended the action and claimed that it was committed in “good faith” to save lives of many soldiers and polling staff from violent stone-pelters in Utligam village of Beerwah.

The incident was widely criticised by political parties and intellectuals. Earlier, a police spokesperson said that “today at 1100 hours, Police Station, Khanyar, received a call from Hotel Grand Mamta that an altercation had taken place. Accordingly, a police party was deputed to the hotel and it surfaced that a woman (name withheld) and another person had come to see someone. But the hotel reception desk did not allow them to meet the person,” a police spokesperson said.

He said a police party reached the spot and all the persons, including the Army Major, were taken to the police station. “Subsequently, it was learnt that the woman had come to meet an Army officer. The identity and particulars of the Army officer were collected by the police. The officials were handed over to their unit after due recording of their statements. The statement of the woman is also being recorded for probing the matter,” the spokesperson said. Asked about the earlier statement made by the police spokesperson, the senior official said that during subsequent investigation it was found that the major along with the driver and the woman were checking in when the altercation took place.


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