On October 16, around 4pm, 76-year-old Sreedharan, a retired teacher was waiting in a queue on a jetty in Havelock Island to get on to a boat to Port Blair. Sreedharan says he saw a man jumping the queue and he objected to it. The man turned out to be Lt. Colonel Martand Misra.
The argument soon heated up and the Lt Col allegedly attacked Sreedharan.
After being punched in the face by the army officer, Sreedharan fell to the ground and sustained injuries on his face and eyes. The army, however, says this is a one-sided version and the colonel too suffered injuries.
After the altercation at the jetty, Sreedharan, Lt Col Misra and their families were taken to a police station. Sreedharan lodged a complaint of assault against the colonel and was later airlifted to GB Pant Hospital in Port Blair where he was treated for three days. Sreedharanâ€™s family too was in Havelock, and his son Sanjay stayed back with the father on October 16.
But, the matter did not end there.
On October 17, the local police and CISF literally shielded Sanjay who had come to the Havelock jetty to take a boat back to Port Blair.
"While Captain Rupak with another soldier were inside the jetty trying to point Sanjay to the group of soldiers, CISF had to prevent 20-30 armed soldiers from entering the jetty. It was understood that they had planned an attack on me," Sanjay said.
"I exited through a different gate and reached the nearest police station," Sanjay added.
On the same day, a group of army men in two army trucks and two gypsy vans led by Captain Rupak gathered in front of a medicine store owned and operated by Sreedharan and his son.
After issuing threats, the men left.
The three incidents have left the family shaken, but no action has been taken against the army officers even after a week.
â€śThe Lt. Governor has given a personal assurance that he would ensure justice prevails. He told us that the Inspector General of Police was looking into the matter,â€ť Sanjay told TNM.
The family met the Governor on October 22 with Prothima Banerjee, Ward Councillor & Chairperson (Education & Social Justice) Port Blair Municipal Council.
â€śWe have been given full support by the local police also,â€ť he added.
â€śWe could have been killed that day. We are alive, and thanks to the police for that,â€ť said Sreedharan.
When contacted by TNM, PRO of Andaman and Nicobar Command of the Indian Army, Lt. Col. Yogesh Sharma said, â€śThere is an allegation against the officer for initiating the offence, but the real issue was an altercation between both the parties.â€ť
â€śThe father-in-law of the army officer was going to keep his luggage and was mistaken for jumping the queue. A scuffle broke out between him and six to eight people in the same queue. That was when Lt. Col Martand Misra went to help out his father-in-law and the altercation became physical,â€ť Sharma said.
â€śThey were taken to the police station and their statements were recorded. It was only yesterday that the medical report done at the Primary Health Centre at Havelock was out. The report said there were injury marks on the neck of the army officer. This medical examination was not carried out by the army and hence, the matter is not as one-sided as portrayed,â€ť Sharma added.
â€śAll parties will be heard in the court of enquiry and only with the co-operation of the civilian parties the matter will be solved quickly. Letters are being sent not only to the family members of Mr Sreedharan but also to those who were present in the jetty,â€ť he concluded.