Soldier jailed for molestation in Assam

Guwahati, Jan 21 (IANS) An army court in Assam Monday sentenced a soldier to three months' rigorous imprisonment in military custody and demoted him, an army spokesperson here said.

Defence spokesperson Lt. Col. S.S. Phogat said that the soldier was accused of attempting to molest a 19-year-old girl at Dolopa village in Sivsagar district of Upper Assam July 14 last year.

"The court also demoted the accused from a naik to a sepoy," Lt. Col. Phogat said, adding that this would also mean a reduction in the service tenure of the accused.

"The accused had been with the army for 14 years. Since he was demoted, he would now be able to serve for only one more year. A sepoy has a service tenure of 15 years while a lance naik can serve for 21 years," Lt. Col. Phogat said.

Anil Kumar Upadhay, a naik with the 287 Field Regiment at Nawjan area in Sivsagar district, attempted to rape the girl, who was part of a group of women from nearby Dolopa village while they were collecting firewood in the area.

When the other women shouted for help, villagers rushed to the spot and handed him over to police. A case was registered against him.

The army instituted a court of inquiry into the incident after several student groups, including the All Tai Ahom Students' Union (ATASU), demanded immediate action against the soldier.

The ATASU wanted a harsher punishment for the soldier than the three months' rigorous imprisonment.

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