Armed forces

Army Major Behind Kashmir Human Shield Given Award

Farooq Ahmad Dar being used as a human shield and Major General Leetul Gogoi. Credit: Video screengrabs

Farooq Ahmad Dar being used as a human shield and Major Leetul Gogoi. Credit: Video screengrabs

New Delhi: Major Leetul Gogoi, who had tied a man to a jeep in Kashmir purportedly as a shield against stone pelters, has been awarded by the army for his ‘sustained efforts’ in counter-insurgency operations.

The army chief’s ‘Commendation Card’ for Major Gogoi is seen as an indication that he is unlikely to be implicated for the incident by a court of inquiry, which the army maintains is still in process.

“Major Gogoi has been awarded chief of army staff’s commendation card for sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations,” army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand said.

Sources said Major Gogoi was given the award during General Bipin Rawat’s visit to Jammu and Kashmir last week.

The army chief’s ‘Commendation Card’ is considered a prestigious award and is given for distinguished services and devotion to duties.

A video showing the man (later identified as Farooq Ahmad Dar) tied to an army vehicle during polling in the Srinagar Lok Sabha by-elections on April 9 triggered public outcry, prompting the army to institute a probe.

The inquiry was tasked to look into the circumstance that prompted Major Gogoi to tie the Kashmiri youth, who has said he was on his way home after voting, to the jeep’s bonnet as a human shield.

  • Rohini

    Initially, the idea of a human shield was shocking and saddening.

    But after hearing more and more about the situation and watching some scary videos of stone pelting…I saw one which was filmed by an army man from inside their vehicle – one thing became clear – those armymen are in mortal danger, those are not stones..they are rocks, projectiles, missiles wwhich can break open your skull…and those are mobs intent on killing and injuring another human mortally. The video I saw had me blanching in shock…40-50 of them targetting a handful of humans within a grilled vehicle, many rocks being thrown with intent to kill or injure severely. The grill shuddered, shivered, many many times..relentlessly, without a break it was attacked by rocks… and that was the only protective barrier between the armymen and the mobsters. It tells a lot about our army that they did not open fire. I would certainly be dead or grievously wounded had I been at the receiving end of those stony missiles.

    If that’s what Gogoi negotiated with his thinking-on-the-feet…then he not only saved the lives of his fellow officers but also prevented a situation that would have been a bad one, had the army resorted to firing. India needs a strict law that criminalises interfereing with law enforcement or the army during opertaions.

    I must admit I changed my initial viewpoint of outrage and my impression of the captain as a villain. He is not, he is actually a smart man. And he stuck his neck out, knowing full well it may go against him. Kudos, officer. The army has done a smart thing by ensuring that officers are not made scapegoats to bleeding hearts but rewarded for minimising loss of lives. Anyone who thinks otherwise MJSt offer alternatives that would yield the same result.

  • Parantap Bhatt

    He willingly took a gamble (in which he succeeded) on the life of an ordinary civilian, in hope that out of solidarity other Kashmiris won’t stone them. This also shows if these people are “paid” stone pelters why would they spare the whole motorcade just for one man tied ahead in a jeep.

    I understand the pressure on Major Gogoi to ensure the safety of his men and the motorcade in a tense and dangerous atmosphere. So yes, I totally understand his act could be a frantic last resort kind of solution after heavy contemplation, but in no way I am going to condone it, let alone felicitate it. Army could’ve issued a statement saying that it was a tactical decision keeping in mind overall safety but in no way this kind of act is condoned by the army. Today, it’s an aberration, tomorrow it could be a practice. But alas, they deepened the divide which is already in form of a chasm.

    Maj. Gogoi took an extrajudicial step because of the confidence derived from past examples where more brutal acts have been brushed under the carpet owing the general explanation that Indian Army is the manifestation of an “incorruptible GOD” that is “infallible”. These people are men from our very own societies and prone to making mistakes that humans do. So it is highly disheartening for people not in power (citizens) witness that the violent acts of those in power (here army) will never be tried by a court and that increases their anger with the establishment.

    The one with the power has to be more responsible, and hence, more accountable. Because they have the gun, armored vehicles, and the backing of complete Indian Legislature.

  • Rohini

    But the army is very clear that he was instigating the crowd…which is why he was picked up. Major Gogoi made a statement to the press yesterday. So, there it rests.

  • Anjan Basu

    Who bothers about the ‘man himself’? Isn’t he a Kashmiri, a potential security threat to the world’s largest democracy? The ‘balanced view’ you are advocating has come to the conclusion

    • Ashok Akbar Gonsalves

      Well said, sir.
      This topic has perhaps finished its “social media shelf life”, but I could not resist writing about something I learnt recently on the wresting of Mosul by the Iraqi forces from ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant).

      http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/07/amnesty-sides-violated-international-law-mosul-170711090407536.html

      In this article, there is the following quote from the UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein:

      “ISIL forced tens of thousands of people from their homes in and around the city and used them as human shields, A WAR CRIME UNDER INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW AND A VIOLATION OF THE MOST BASIC STANDARDS OF HUMAN DIGNITY AND MORALITY”. (upper case added by me)

      So: The act of using someone as a human shield simply has NO MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES in its defense. It is an UNCONDITIONAL war crime because it violates basic human dignity and right to life and freedom. Period.

      Commending Major Gogoi is tantamount to dehumanizing Mr Dar by effectively positing that his dignity is either non-existent or disposable, and so too by extension is the dignity of every Kashmiri.

      And that’s why we are losing Kashmir.

      • Anjan Basu

        I agree. All that we seem to be capable of is to crow about Kashmir being an ‘integral part’ of India. We do that as the horrid game of alienating ( with the object of subjugating) Kashmiris plays out around us. This way, we can only lose Kashmir.