FAROOQ Ahmed Dar was tied up in front of an SUV in Budgam district.
FAROOQ Ahmed Dar was tied up in front of an SUV in Budgam district.

NEW DELHI: The Indian army on Monday announced that Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat has awarded a commendation to the military officer who tied a Kashmiri man to a vehicle as a human shield against stone-pelting civilians.

The Hindu, describing the move as surprising, said the army chief’s decision came as the Court of Inquiry (CoI) against Major Leetul Gogoi continues, and in the face of intense criticism of the action from various sections including many within the army.

“Major Leetul Gogoi has been awarded COAS Commendation Card for sustained efforts in counter insurgency (CI) operations,” the paper quoted army sources as saying on Monday.

On April 9, on election eve, Farooq Ahmed Dar was tied up in front of an SUV (sport utility vehicle) as a human shield in Budgam district of held Kashmir which drew sharp criticism. However the government had defended the action and the army ordered a Court of Inquiry (CoI) to determine the circumstances of the incident.

“The award was given for his good work in CI operations in the valley, including this incident,” a source said adding that Gen Rawat decided to give the Commendation during his recent visit to the valley and it was presented to Maj Gogoi through proper channels.

Meanwhile, the CoI ordered into the incident is yet to conclude the task and officials said that it is a long process. “There are a lot of civilian witnesses to whom summons have been issued,” one army source said, stating that it would take some time.

“Image of a ‘stone pelter’ tied in front of a jeep as a ‘human shield’, will forever haunt the Indian army & the nation,” Lt Gen H.S. Panag, former Northern Commander had tweeted after the incident came to light.

Ramazan truce

In a related development, a group of concerned Indians on Monday called on the government and anti-Indian agitators to establish a truce for the holy month of Ramazan, saying far too many lives were lost on both sides and violence was not a winning strategy for either.

“We strongly urge all concerned who are wielding the gun or are pelting stones to desist from doing so during this holy month,” the group headed by former BJP foreign minister Yashwant Sinha said in a statement.

“We would like to appeal to the government of India and the state government also to take the lead and declare that the security forces will respond only in cases of extreme provocation and in self-defence. Let there be no violence in Kashmir during Ramazan.”

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2017



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