SRINAGAR: Authorities used force to disperse a protest against the "torture" of five villagers in Bandipora,Jammu and Kashmir, allegedly by Indian Army personnel which left five persons, including a woman, injured.

Deputy commissioner of Bandipora, Sajad Hussain Ganai, told The Citizen that a joint team of Army's 14 Rashtriya Rifles and J&K police's counter-insurgency unit cordoned off Chuntmulla village on Monday morning following suspicion about the presence of militants.

"During the search operation, the Army personnel reportedly barged into some houses and picked up at least five residents, including a girl identified as Sakeena. I have ordered an inquiry which will be headed by ACR Bandipora, Masarrat Hashim. I have also directed the police to register an FIR,” Ganai said.

Witnesses said the detainees were allegedly tortured by the Army personnel, prompting the villagers to stage a protest during which they also pelted stones at the camp where the victims were held up, following which they were released.

The Army's Srinagar-based spokesperson could not be reached for comments, despite repeated attempts.

The news of the "unprovoked" assault spread like wildfire in Chuntmulla village, prompting the anguished villagers to accompany the victims to the deputy commissioner's office by carrying out a procession. Reports said hundreds of villagers from adjoining Arin, Kunan and Kawdara joined the procession.

Shouting slogans against the Army and police, the protesters were demanding action against soldiers involved in the "torture" incident while marching towards Bandipora. However, a police and paramilitary team deployed on the periphery of Bandipora tried to stop the procession, resulting in clashes during which police fired teargas shells.

The protesters, however, broke the forces' cordon and succeeded in reaching the town where they put up a blockade on the main road. DC Ganai said senior police and civil administration officials reached the spot and pacified the protesters. "Three of the injured, including the woman, were rushed to Srinagar for treatment,” he said.

Senior Superintendent of Police, Bandipora, Shabir Ahmad Choudhary said the police has launched an investigation into the matter, “After completing investigations, we will decide on the future of action,” he said.

The opposition National Conference condemned the assault by Army personnel, saying such incidents "discredit the dividends of peace". “We strongly condemn this incident and also demand that the district administration sheds light on this matter and the culprits are booked without any delay”, NC spokesman, Junaid Mattu, said in a statement.

Calling for revocation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, NC spokesman said the government’s silence on the issue sends out a message of impunity. “While PDP demanded the revocation of AFSPA in opposition, they have completely abandoned this demand after entering into an alliance with the BJP. The complete silence of the state government is extremely unfortunate,” he said.