The Indian army's Major Nitin Gogoi, who had tied a 26-year-old Kashmiri man to a jeep as human shield, has been praised by the military and awarded a commendation card, reports Indian media.
"Major Gogoi, the officer who tied protester to jeep as human shield in J&K awarded by COAS for sustained efforts in counter insurgency operations," tweeted ANI.
According to media reports, the officer was awarded for his "sustained efforts” in counterinsurgency. Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat awarded Maj Gogoi of Rashtriya Rifles branch with a commendation card.
The incident, which took place on April 9 this year, surfaced through a video clip that was circulating on social media. The video went viral within hours and sparked overwhelming protests and violence across the India-held Kashmir.
26-year-old Farooq Ahmad Dar, a resident of Chil village, said while talking about the fateful day that he left his home early that morning to make his way to the polling station at the local middle school as elections were under way.
He returned home that night with his left arm broken and after having being paraded through tens of kilometres.
Dar recalls that after casting his vote, he got on to his motor cycle to attend a condolence meeting at his sister’s house 20km away. A few kilometres before his destination, Dar said he was stopped by an army patrol, led by a major.
After looking at his identity card, they questioned him about why he was so far from his home. They then began to beat him up and accused him of being a stone pelter, said Dar while adding that there were no visible disturbances in the area when they stopped him.
He said they thrashed him for 20 minutes before attempted to push him into a stream. My leg was immersed in the water but I managed to push myself back and got back up, he said.
The soldiers then tied him to a vehicle and paraded him “through 10-20 villages” with a piece of paper attached to his chest declaring that he was a stone pelter, Dar said.
“They humiliated me publicly,” Dar said.
At 4 in the evening, Dar said he was taken to a Central Reserve Paramilitary Force camp in Hardapanzoo where, he alleges, he was “still tied up and not offered water.” Later, Dar said he was taken on another ride, this time inside a jeep. At around 8 pm on that day he was released from the Rayar camp of the army near Arizal.
Following the condemnations and outrage, the Indian army announced that the incident was being investigated. Indian Army spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia said in a statement that the video was being examined.
“The contents of the video are being verified and investigated,” he said.
The state's chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, claimed that a First Information Report (FIR) was also lodged at a local police station against the army unit. She sought a detailed report from the state police.
Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh has said he will look into it.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah tweeted the video, noting that: "A warning can be heard saying that stone pelters [in held Kashmir] will meet this fate. This requires an urgent inquiry and follow up now."
'Why the noise over Kashmir human shield'
In response to the condemnations, India’s Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi had disapproved of growing criticism of a human shield the army used in Indian Kashmir to thwart stone-pelting protesters.
“The recent report about a stone pelter tied to an Army vehicle, it helped contain stone pelters and saved the poll officials. Why so much noise,” Mr Rohatgi said.
“Everyday people are dying. It’s a surcharged atmosphere. The Army is dealing with terrorists not with protesters, so they will have to be dealt with...everyone should look at the Army with pride, they are doing a great job.”