Kashmiri man Farooq Ahmad Dar, who was identified as a stone-pelter and tied to the bonnet of a jeep by the Army, has filed a complaint with the state Human Rights Commission in Jammu and Kashmir against rewarding the officer who ordered the act, ANI has reported. Dar was used as a human shield to apparently prevent a mob from attacking troops and Election Commission staff in the state’s Budgam district on April 9.
Soon after the incident, Indian Army’s Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi was awarded the Chief of Army Staff’s commendation card for his efforts in “counter-insurgency operations”.
Denying Army’s claim that he was a stone-pelter, 26-year-old Dar had told The Indian Express, “I am not a stone-pelter. Never in my life have I thrown stones. I work as an embroiderer of shawls, and I know some carpentry.” He said he was paraded for four hours that day and was driven for 25 km from Utligam to Sonpa, Najan, Chakpora, Hanjiguroo, Rawalpora, Khospora, Arizal, adding that finally, the jeep stopped at Hardpanzoo CRPF camp.
Opposition political leaders said Major Gogoi’s measures against stone-pelters would only aggravate the situation in the Valley. Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh wrote in a column for the Indian Express that Major Gogoi should be given a distinguished services’ medal. At the same time, former J&K chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah questioned if the incident set a precedent that allows an individual officer to take the law into his own hands”.
A separate criminal investigation by the J&K Police continues in the case. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, however, bars police from prosecuting military personnel without the consent of the Union Government.