New Delhi, Dec. 18: The army today said an officer alleged to have raped a woman and her minor daughter in Kashmir would be tried by court martial.
Major Rehman Hussain was suspended by the army chief, General N.C. Vij, after a wave of protests rocked the Valley following reports of molestation near the northern town of Handwara on November 6.
Army sources in New Delhi said the general court martial would be conducted at Uri in Kashmir's Baramulla district from December 20. Brigadier Syed Ata Hasnain was named the presiding officer.
The spokespersons of the Northern Command in Jammu and the army's 15 Corps in Srinagar said as much.
The proceedings of the court martial would be 'transparent', the sources said.
In another court martial in Jodhpur, where an officer was being tried for having allegedly faked encounters in Siachen, the army had permitted the media to attend the hearings.
Even if rules stipulate that a general court martial can be attended by the public, the security implications of conducting it in Kashmir will restrict access.
Major Hussain was suspended on November 11 ' to ensure 'speedy and fair investigation by the court of inquiry last month' ' placed under 'closed arrest' and removed from Handwara where he was with the 30 Rashtriya Rifles.
The Rashtriya Rifles, a paramilitary force, is staffed by the army.
Protesters had taken to the streets of Handwara and other towns in the Valley, alleging that the officer had molested the woman and her 10-year-old daughter during a search operation at Badra Payeen village on Novem- ber 6.
But there are contradictory versions of the incident.
The decision to institute a general court martial follows a court of inquiry conducted earlier by the army.
It had ordered a probe following a plea from chief minister Mufti Moham- mad Sayeed, who had promised to take action in the incident.
An army spokesperson in Delhi said the authorities had ordered the court martial proceedings as the inquiry had uncovered some substance in the allegations.
He added that the action was part of a new process initiated by the army chief to bring about transparency in the conduct of operations by security forces.
Army sources said DNA samples of the officer had been sent for forensic examination to a laboratory in Chandigarh.