Major Gogoi deserves a distinguished services medal for using human shield against stone-pelters in Kashmir

Unfortunately, there were not many willing to pat his back for his remarkable presence of mind and timely action that probably saved the lives of many of his men, for whom he was responsible as their officer in charge.

Written by Amarinder Singh | Updated: May 20, 2017 8:12 am
kashmir army, kashmir army jeep, man tied to jeep, omar abdullah, kashmir youth jeep, kashmir people tied with jeep, omar abdullah jeep tweet, kashmir jeep video, india news, indian express news The video of Farooq Ahmad Dar, the 26-year-old shawl artisan from Kashmir who was tied to a jeep as a human shield.(Source: @abdullah_omar/Twitter)

Tough situations warrant tough reactions, and dangerous situations often, if not always, merit daring actions. When Major Nitin Gogoi decided (and, mind you, it could not have been anything other than a split-second decision) to use a civilian as a “human shield” to protect his men from a stone-pelting mob, he was simply reacting to a tough situation in a dangerous environment.

That our jawans are exposed to these kind of dangers every day, not only at the precarious borders, but also within the so-called protected confines of the country, is something we all know. Unfortunately, however, most of us fail to appreciate the gravity of such a situation, or deliberately choose to ignore the perils associated with it, for the army personnel, of course, but, and perhaps even more importantly, for the nation at large. And when someone does try to understand the complexities of such a situation and chooses to follow a path less treaded, he or she is accused of being insensitive to the concerns of the ordinary people of the land, in gross violation of their human rights. Or condemned for taking a stand contrary to that of the majority.

Contrarian or not, my opinion on the Major Gogoi episode is clearly and unequivocally in favour of the officer, who only did what was absolutely correct, and possibly the only sane and logical course of action available to him, in the circumstances.

Unfortunately, there were not many willing to pat his back for his remarkable presence of mind and timely action that probably saved the lives of many of his men, for whom he was responsible as their officer in charge.

Some feel I have gone too far in actually demanding a distinguished services medal for the daring officer. Is that so? Does an army officer not deserve a reward for saving lives? Or is it the destiny of all army personnel to sacrifice their lives, if not to the enemy at the border, then at the hands of the very civilians they are designated to protect? Quite frankly, I am unable to understand the logic-defying argument of the proponents of the school of thinking which treats a jawan’s life with a pinch of salt — as a dispensable commodity.

Nor can I support the view that an army officer should behave like a gentleman, come what may, and whatever the provocation. There is a time and place to be polite and courteous, and a time and place for aggression and retaliation. After all, who can remain unaffected and unprovoked by the sight of the badly mutilated body of an army jawan, and that too during peace time?

Or, for that matter, by reports of the cowardly abduction and killing of a young army officer attending a family wedding on a holiday?

I cannot, and will not accept the argument that reacting or retaliating to such acts is detrimental to peace, and we should, hence, maintain a stoic brave front in the face of such atrocities. Peace, in my opinion, is only possible if the government writ runs large, which, naturally, also means that the Indian Army should have an upper hand to be able to negotiate peace on terms that are favourable to the country and in the interest of its people, including our brave jawans.

This holds good for a volatile state like Jammu and Kashmir, and also for dealing with border conflicts, such as the Indo-Pak border situation. The vulnerability of Indian soldiers in both these environments necessitates some bold steps, including giving a free hand to the Indian army, which cannot possibly fight with its hands tied behind its back. It also requires looking at things through a different lens from the one we have been using all these years. A tooth for a tooth and a nail for a nail may sound a crude way of putting it, but the fact is that brutality and barbarism need to be tackled with an iron fist, which our armed forces can do only if they are freed of the “gentleman’s army” label they have been perforce carrying all these years.

Let me clarify here that what I am advocating is not all-out war. All I am proposing is a tougher national policy for dealing with inimical forces, operating from both within and outside Indian borders. This, and this alone, can lead to the establishment of permanent peace in the long-term. As the chief minister of Punjab, a sensitive state bordering Pakistan, I am fully aware of the dangers of conflict of any kind and do not propound violence as a means for settling issues. At the same time, however, I strongly believe that negotiations for peace can be possible only when both sides are dealing with each other from a position of equal strength. And eventually, peace is what we need if we are to progress as powerful nations, ready to lead the world into a brighter future.

So, whether it is a matter of tackling the Kashmir strife or the issue of mending ties with Pakistan, the key lies in taking a few tough decisions to address tough situations. It is not an easy task, of course. It could not have been easy for Major Gogoi to take that difficult decision which earned him the wrath of human rights activists, but, at the same time, helped save many innocent lives.

Nor will it be easy for the Indian army to shed the gentleman’s tag and adopt a more aggressive role vis-a-vis the enemy. But then, the road to peace is never easy. One just needs to find an easy way to follow a tough course.

The writer is chief minister of Punjab and a senior leader of the Congress party

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  1. J
    jagdev singh
    May 26, 2017 at 8:07 am
    u r talking about only like army officier , now sir u r respected person in my home state , if u talk like out of cons ution but will happen or impact on common citizens of your country, for ur kind information sir a men who bind on jeep had came there for vote, he is not one from stone petter..
    Reply
    1. K
      Kulmohan Singh
      May 25, 2017 at 3:17 am
      Politicians, when will you be more Human ?
      Reply
      1. K
        kvjayan
        May 24, 2017 at 3:18 pm
        Right man in the wrong party.
        Reply
        1. T
          Tellitasitis
          May 24, 2017 at 12:15 pm
          Bravo, Captain! You have spoken out for the countless Indians who applaud the brave action of Major Gogoi, that not only saved lives of civilians and soldiers alike but tamed a dangerous situation to p peacefully.
          Reply
          1. S
            Shrikant Puranik
            May 24, 2017 at 11:30 am
            SHAABBAASH CAPTAIN ! THREE CHEERS FOR YOUR VIEWS.
            Reply
            1. V
              Vikram
              May 24, 2017 at 11:30 am
              Hats off Capt Amrinder singh
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              1. A
                A.Murali Krishna
                May 24, 2017 at 10:59 am
                Congratulations Sri Amarinder, as a cons utional head of a state, you spoke realistically. Mr. Gogoi with used commonsense to help his team. The people who support stone pelters should come on to streets and pacify Kashmir youth. Can they do? Who are this HR activists? What is the contribution to peace or what is their role in arresting violence?
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                1. U
                  Urmila Duhan
                  May 24, 2017 at 10:19 am
                  Agree that Major Gogoi deserves a distinguished services medal for using human shield against stone-pelters in Kashmir.
                  Reply
                  1. R
                    rameshnk
                    May 24, 2017 at 10:19 am
                    Capt. Singh. Hats off to you. It is usrprising that you belong to a party of rank opportunists like Congress. What you said is 100 right. I wish other losusy politcos in your party and other opposition parties also have sense. Remeber all. The country's pride is above all, evem beyond party affiliation.
                    Reply
                    1. H
                      HG KETKAR
                      May 24, 2017 at 10:16 am
                      Congratulations for giving pats to Major Gogoi and for army for using their cir stantial and friction seconds mind use against the stone pelters for the safety and security of Indian army personnel and citizens. I like to remind Shri Omar Abdullah, the Ex CM of J&M that the army personnel are not meant to give their sacrifice before the anti national stone pelters, terrorists, anti-national activists, but they have to fight with enemy.
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                      1. R
                        R Kamat
                        May 24, 2017 at 10:01 am
                        Seriously , the Govt should involve this gentleman into its " think tank ", should there be one by whatever name, without regard to his political affiliation. If his party is against this, he should be welcomed in his personal capacity. He deserves all kudos for this upright stand. As far award for the act, it is certainly debatable. Again the officer who declared this award did it spontaneously and there are always emotions attached to certain happenings in career. No person, howsoever high one may be, can be mature enough to overcome such emotions all the time.
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                        1. I
                          Indian
                          May 24, 2017 at 9:40 am
                          Major Gogoi did great job,doing so (terrorist tied to a jeep as a human shield) he saved many innocent people . If that man was not a terrorist then how his supporter stopped pelting stone at jeep.
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                          1. A
                            Aruna
                            May 23, 2017 at 8:36 pm
                            Brilliant. The sanest voice coming on this issue. Congrats to Capt. Singh who as a CM could have taken the safe route by keeping quiet or towing his party line. By choosing to voice his opinion so well articulated, he has shown his fellow politicians what it means to stand for ideals and voice them!! Respect!
                            Reply
                            1. S
                              Sujata Mantri
                              May 23, 2017 at 9:22 am
                              Well.....Major Gogoi deserves all accolades, who could think of a way to come out of such a situation, without which our soldiers would not have come out safely. Most people did not bother about his sponatneous decison, instead he was received with ire. Sad!! No one bothered even when a video went viral in social platforms, where in t was seen that how stone pelters were instigating our jawans, how they were abusing them!! Now w world is up against Paresh Rawal when he tweeted that the great human rights activist Arundhati Roy should ve been tied instead of that stone pelter!! Wat wrong he said? Human rights are only for ordinary mortals? Not for our soldiers who are always enadangering their lives for our sake? Shame on the people who are trol Paresh Rawal.
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                              1. M
                                Mahan Murphy
                                May 23, 2017 at 1:24 am
                                No need to justify or denounce the act. On the ground the major took a decision that he found correct to avoid the inevitable. That's all. Nobody advocates to use it again or don't use it at all. If the result is good everybody appreciated and if bad everybody condemns. Had the stone pelters resorted to pelting even after and the poor guy dies then the action would have been very bad. Just take it with a pinch of salt.
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                                1. V
                                  Vrc
                                  May 21, 2017 at 4:33 pm
                                  Makes perfect sense - in critical situations we do away with our mores, momentarily, adrenally - and rely on instincts.
                                  Reply
                                  1. A
                                    Arijit Jain
                                    May 21, 2017 at 10:24 am
                                    Kudos to Captain for such a brave & upfront article which is not only pragmatic & practical but also the need of the hour. Stone Pelter are offering flowers to soldiers that they have to be dealt with velvet gloves. For Gods sake please try the so called HR activists should also see the other side of the coin and don't be blind to the fact that if a stone hits the body of a man in uniform his human body will also spill blood and get damaged in the same way of the human thrower of that stone. Throwing stone is an act of aggression and attack on human soldiers as well and if by doing some act injuries of both sides can be avoided it is definitely praiseworthy. Not a drop of human blood was shed by this act and on the contrary a bloody conflict was fully avoided without an ounce of forceful human torture.
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                                    1. N
                                      Nipon Saikia
                                      May 21, 2017 at 9:33 am
                                      This is one person from the GOP who still commands respect from the nationalist public. Respect Captain. As a person who vows for the destruction of the Congress, you earned my salutation.
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                                      1. G
                                        Gautam Majumdar
                                        May 22, 2017 at 8:17 pm
                                        I hate the Congress but this article has impressed me .
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                                      2. K
                                        k y
                                        May 21, 2017 at 9:04 am
                                        capt sahab dnt mix pak with kashmir... kashmir is our soverign and kashmiris r our citizens... rather than suggesting crude ways suggest some intelligent way like more presence of intelligence slueths on ground to keep army aware of possible threats/mob movement... it will avoid / prevent kil of kashmiris (by pellet bullets) as well as our beloved soldiers (by stone pelting or other coward means)... nw a days its fashion to evoke "soldier spirit" to gain political milege... rather than this better tk cr of punjab state.. tk care of ex servicemen as well serving soldiers family (civil issues backhome r a psyhlogical burden to soldiers on borders)... giv zila sainik board some authority to resolve soldiers civil issues
                                        Reply
                                        1. S
                                          Saket Agrawal
                                          May 21, 2017 at 8:46 am
                                          I salute CM Saab as he wrote from his heart defying his own party's stand. Very few of the leaders in congress have courage to do so. Good day
                                          Reply
                                          1. K
                                            k y
                                            May 21, 2017 at 8:07 am
                                            tomorrow somebdy may say lynching is gud... tomorrow khap panchayats may b justified... tomorrow fatwa may b justified cap sahab its a country of law and order where things move by cons utional providions
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