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  India   All India  25 May 2017  J&K human shield victim files complaint at SHRC after Army awarded Gogoi

J&K human shield victim files complaint at SHRC after Army awarded Gogoi

Published : May 25, 2017, 8:14 pm IST
Updated : May 25, 2017, 8:14 pm IST

A major controversy surfaced earlier this week when Major Gogoi of 53 Rashtriya Rifles was awarded ‘Commendation Card’.

Man tied to the bonnet of the jeep serving as human shield. (Photo: File)
 Man tied to the bonnet of the jeep serving as human shield. (Photo: File)

Srinagar: A Kashmiri shawl weaver, who was tied to the bonnet of an Army jeep during the April 9 by-poll to the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, has filed a formal complaint against the officer involved in the act.

The incident had evoked rage across the country with human rights groups, including Amnesty International, demanding action against those responsible.

He has filed the complaint in the Jammu and Kashmir’s State Human Rights Commission (J&KSHRC) against Army Major Leetul Gogoi by Farooq Ahmed Dar, a resident of Chhil Brass village of central Budgam district.

The commission, constituted in January 1997, is an autonomous state body with quasi-judicial powers tasked to investigate any violation of human rights in the restive State.

A video, which went viral soon after the April 9 incident in Badgam, showed Dar tied to the bonnet of an Army jeep with a placard. Dar had later said that he was caught by the troops in Gundipora village of the district, who tied him to the front of their jeep before proceeding towards Beerwah town. An FIR was registered by the Jammu and Kashmir police against the Army. On 15 April, the Army constituted a court of inquiry in the incident and a report is pending.

However, a major controversy surfaced earlier this week when Major Gogoi of 53 Rashtriya Rifles was awarded ‘Commendation Card’ for his “sustained distinguished service” in counterinsurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat. That in spite of the fact that Army has yet to complete the inquiry into the incident and the police has said that the case registered against him in the local police station has not been quashed either.    

Major Gogoi told a select group of media persons invited by the Army to interact with him at his camp in Budgam earlier this week that if he had not done what he did that day “at least 12 or more lives” would have been lost, and that “had I fired there would have been many casualties.”

Dar on Thursday said that the Army inquiry into his being used as a human shield is “complete eyewash”. He said, “They were never serious. I’m a small person and why should anyone care.” He also said that he was yet to record his statement with the local police. “It has been over a month since then and I am yet to hear from the local police. Even my statement has not been registered,” he complained.

He also termed Major Gogoi’s claim that he had chosen him for being strapped to the bonnet of the Army jeep because he was the “ringleader of a stone-pelting gang” as “totally false” and an attempt to “justify the crime he committed”.  He reiterated that he had gone to the polling station to cast his vote which has been corroborated by the concerned authorities. “If I was a ringleader of the stone-pelters would I have cast my vote”, he asked alleging that the Army officer is lying to save himself. He again said that he won’t vote again in an election.

Former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, had on Wednesday denounced as “farce” the Army's court of inquiry against Major Gogoi. He wrote on micro-blogging site, “In future, please don't bother with the farce of a military court of inquiry. Clearly the only court that matters is the court of public opinion.” In another tweet, Abdullah alleged that the government was adopting double standards on issues of human rights violations. “And international conventions like the Geneva/Vienna ones only count when India can accuse others of violations. Do as we say, not as we do," he said.

Syed Altaf Bukhari, a senior leader of the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and J&K’s education minister, said the Army officer’s action was the “worst form of human rights abuse.” He told Greater Kashmir newspaper, “I don’t approve of it (giving Commendation Medal to Major Gogoi). “I strongly condemn the action by the Army officer as it is a worst form of human rights violation and any human rights violation is condemnable."

Meanwhile, an alliance of key separatist leaders –Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik- has called for peaceful protests after Friday prayers against the Army Chief’s felicitating Major Gogoi. In a statement, the alliance termed the decision to give “Commendation Card to the officer as “Indian fascism”. 

Tags: major leetul gogoi, army jeep, human shield, kashmiri shawl weaver
Location: India, Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar