Armed forces

Indian Army Accused of Using Civilian as Human Shield in Kashmir Patrol

Reached for a response, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, the Srinagar-based spokesman of the Ministry of Defence told The Wire, “The contents of the video are being verified and investigated.”

An unidentified Kashmir man strapped to the front of a jeep carrying security personnel in Beerwah, Jammu and Kashmir. Credit: Junaid Azim Mattoo/Twitter

An unidentified Kashmir man strapped to the front of a jeep carrying security personnel in Beerwah, Jammu and Kashmir. Credit: Junaid Azim Mattoo/Twitter

New Delhi: As tension in the Kashmir valley continues to ride high in the wake of the public boycott of ongoing by-elections to two Lok Sabha constituencies, the spokesperson of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference – one of the parties in fray for the Srinagar and Anantnag seats – has posted a video in which a Kashmiri civilian is shown strapped to the front of a jeep being driven as part of a convoy by the security forces in Gundipora, Beerwah.

Gundipora is in Budgam district, which originally voted on Sunday. Repolling was held in a number of booths on Thursday.

The shocking video of the army using a ‘human shield’  is 11 seconds long. Posted by NC spokesperson Junaid Azim Mattu, it is not clear who shot it and when, nor are the license plates of the jeep and the truck which follows visible, though the tactical number 339 on the jeep would make it easy for the military to track the vehicle down.

According to the Indian Express, an unidentified man that the newspaper said is a soldier can be heard saying through a public address system, “Those who throw stones will meet the same fate.”

Reached for a response, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, the Srinagar-based spokesman of the Ministry of Defence told The Wire, “The contents of the video are being verified and investigated.”

The use of civilians as human shields is a common though reviled practice of the Israeli Defence Forces in the occupied Palestinian territories but this is the first time that visual evidence has emerged suggesting that the Indian army too has adopted a similar method of dealing with militant threats or hostile crowds.

Palestinian boy strapped to an Israeli army jeep. Credit: BBC

Palestinian boy strapped to an Israeli army jeep. Credit: BBC

The Israeli practice is regarded by lawyers as a gross violation of international humanitarian law and of the Geneva Conventions.

If proven true, the use of civilians as a human shield would almost certainly fall foul of Indian law and the constitutional guarantees of right to life.

Last year, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, whose Peoples Democratic Party is in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party in the state, told a public rally that the security forces used to use civilians as human shields in the late 1990s:

“Back then I would fight with army and police, when they would go for crackdown in villages. They would ask villagers to be in front of them to find militants from a house. People would fear that if the militant fired they would die in between. I have fought against this practice.”

On Friday morning, the former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, described the Beerwah incident as “just so shocking”.

The Wire will keep updating the story as more details become available.

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  • Raju Baruah

    Why were the riotous Jaats not treated in the same manner by the Army? Coz All Indians are equal but some Indians are more equal than the others.

    • Subhasish Mukherjee

      Are you sure that this video is genuine or are you assuming it and talking. Why no comments on the video regarding the CRPF jawans being kicked and slapped? or would you now like to prove that this was a fake post, I know money power speaks but LET ME IN THE SAME BREATH TELL YOU THAT IF THIS VIDEO AND THE INCIDENT IS CORRECT THE INDIAN ARMY WILL NOT SPARE THE OFFICERS CONCERNED

      • Ray Denmark

        Are you sure that the video of CRPF jawans being kicked and slapped is genuine or are you assuming it and talking?

    • Kam

      Ha ha,,,,,,,,sorry but Rioters SC/ST etc are treated in the same manner by many persons of men in arms. Look at the “Adivasis” of Dandakaranya…….chhattisgarh, orisa and AP….a news came in a news paper that an adivasi girl 14yrs old was raped by CRPF men in a village. Villagers protested but nothing happened eventually. How much that news was true, no one knows, but such news do come.
      Now look at Manipur. Even Supreme court has ordered….it appears that Central Govt doesnt want any inquiries into rape allegations and fake encounters………..because “moral of army will go down”.!!!!!
      Now, as a patriot India it is out of my understanding as how the “moral of army” will go down by enquiring and punishing the guilty. Because I suppose, no army person would align himself with rapist and killer. Any honest army person will support that such rapist and killers should be court martialed and punished and removed from the army at the earliest.
      We as a citizen respect Army because of its discipline……….and not because of some persons violating the norms of Hindu Dharma.. the norms of Buddha…the norms of Gandhi and the norms of Gurunanak. We respect Army for it gives a feeling of protection…..and not because some handful among them do rape and kill innocent people.
      As an India I want that Kashmiris people should find themselves and feel themselves “protected” when an Indian army person is around them. I don’t want reverse.
      Unfortunately, Indian government headed by the slaves of Brahmanistic anti human bhagava terrorist mentality gang, is unable to give a proper message to the citizens of India.
      That is why we want Dr Manmohan Singh back as Indian PM…….a PM with a large heart, a PM who is the follower of rebellion Gurunanak………the messenger of peace and humanity.. This India land is the land of Gurunanak, the land of Buddha, the land of Gandhi. And it is the demand of the time that the followers and believers of them should rule this great country.

  • Radha Rajan

    Why this outrage? The army had to get its men safely out and this was a tactical measure to deter stone pelters without opening fire. Brilliant move.

    • Subhasish Mukherjee

      Sir, if this unfortunate incident is true it is certainly not a brilliant move. No civilian hostile or not is to be used as a human shield. I would still await the veracity of the incident all the more so because this is Mr Junaid Mattu’s post and Mr Omar Abdullah immediately woke up to add to the comment unlike the Budgam incident of 9th April ’17, in which the CRPF jawan is seen being abused by a crowd. That I am sure Mr Omar Abdullah either is not aware of or it must have been a fake post.

  • SK Jain

    I can assure that this is not an Army Vehicle. The flag shown on the vehicle is used by a Brigadier rank officer. Army Officers are not allowed to travel in a single vehicle in Kashmir Valley. They travel in a convoy of at least three-four vehicles and there will be at least one vehicle in front of Brigadier’s vehicle. This is a conspiracy to defame Indian Army.

  • Alok Asthana

    IF this was done by Indian army, I am shocked. Absolutely illegal and unethical. Can’t jeopardize the life of a civilian like this. Very sad. At this rate, we’ll be using women and children of Pak as shields, when we fight them next. Deplorable.

  • Kam

    If this video is true then it is a shame on Indian Army. Shame. That army personnel who did this should be court martialled immediately. Indian army is made up of steel and they do not need a human shield. The army persons who are not afraid of metal bullets, why would be them afraid of stones? India army has brave persons and persons with good heart also. And if this video is true, then an exemplary punishment should be given to all those guilty of this heinous inhumane act.

  • Rohini

    If this is true, I am shocked. This is NOT the way to go for us. I hope the whole issue is investigated and if true, we must all also learn what action has been taken. I don’t pretend to know what the on-ground situation was but when I see this, it’s good.
    Also, I would prefer to wait for the investigative report to be made public – I hope the media ill report the results with the same level of enthusiasm, whatever the findings and action.