Jammu and Kashmir Police has registered a case against unidentified Army personnel for allegedly entering three hotels in the dead of the night in Leh and harassing tourists, including foreigners, earlier this week.
The incident took place during the intervening night of May 30 and 31 when Army personnel from 3 Division based at Kharu in Leh area of Ladakh region barged into Hotel Masarovar, Holiday Inn and Keddar Guest House, official sources said today.
They said the soldiers, carrying weapons and wearing uniforms without name badges, questioned the tourists without taking local police into confidence as required under law.
One of the tourists had taken pictures of the Army personnel and complained to local police about harassment by the troops, the sources said.
They said as the police tried to intervene in the matter, the soldiers allegedly manhandled them. The Army personnel were heard repeatedly shouting that someone in the hotels was using a satellite phone.
Several foreign tourists staying in these hotels felt harassed in the process and threatened to lodge a complaint with the Government through their embassies, the sources said.
A defence spokesman, while denying harassment to the tourists, claimed that Army had stepped up vigil in Leh region following intelligence inputs that terrorists were planning to disrupt the tourism in the area.
Police took cognizance of the incident after the Army’s claim about use of satellite phones could not be proved, the sources said.
A case under sections 148 RPC (rioting, armed with deadly weapons) and 342 RPC (wrongful confinement) was registered against the Army personnel, they said.
Highly placed sources said the incident was retaliatory action by a senior Army officer, who along with his son was asked to go through routine frisking at the Leh Airport a few days ago.
They said the officer had entered into an altercation with the police authorities at the airport.
“Specific intelligence inputs over the last few days indicated that there were terrorist designs to disrupt the highly successful tourism season in Leh by targeting the hotels and Leh Airport. Since then, preventive actions including heightened security measures to pre-empt the terrorist motives are in place,” defence spokesman Lt Colonel J S Brar said.
He said on receiving inputs about use of satellite phones in Leh, a discreet vigilance action was mounted and some premises were searched on the night of May 30/31 but it was ensured that no inconvenience was caused to the inhabitants.
The State police denied having any intelligence about the terrorists planning to strike in Leh as claimed by the Army.