Indian Army’s Major Nitin Leetul Gogi was recently awarded with the Chief of Army Staff’s commendation card for his efforts in counter-insurgency operations. Major Gogoi came under limelight for an incident in Budgam where he is alleged to have ordered to tie a Kashmiri man on the hood of a jeep as a shield against stone-pelters. The action brought both criticism and acclaim in good measure. The army, however, stood by its officer and recognised the way he handled the situation to save his group of soldiers and some poll officials. Here is a look at how the story has unfolded since that fateful day.
April 9, 2017: Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi was returning with some soldiers and poll officials during Kashmir bypolls. The army said that the decision to tie the Kashmiri man on the jeep bonnet was taken by Major Gogoi to rescue the group of security officials and civilians from a mob of stone pelters. The video of the incident went viral.
April 15, 2017: After Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had asked for a report from the police in the matter, Army also came out to say that they were examining the video. The Army has claimed that they tied Dar who was one of the stone pelters. However, Dar denies it vehemently. In a report, Dar told 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. This is what I do.” He said that he was paraded for four hours from 11 am on that day. He said that he 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.
April 17, 2017: An FIR was filed under Sections 342, 149, 506 and 367 of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) in the case.
May 19, 2017: Defence Minister Arun Jaitley backed the decision of the army men saying that the army was interested in saving lives. “Let us not forget the Army is a responsible institution and the Army was also interested in saving lives of various people who were involved in the election process and also the large crowd of people gathered there to protest,” Jaitley told reporters.
May 20, 2017: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh wrote in a column for the Indian Express that Dar should be given a distinguished services’ medal.
May 24, 2017: Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and leader of National Conference Omar Abdullah said, “Have we set a precedent that allows an individual officer to take the law into his own hands and use an Indian citizen as a human shield as and when he deems it appropriate and necessary — to “save lives”?”
He adds further, “The greatness of great nations lies in holding their institutions to the highest possible standards of law, humanity and constitutional propriety. In fighting armed militancy or any form of internal conflict, the state cannot abdicate its responsibility to uphold the fundamental rights of its citizens by holding its army accountable. In an allegedly binary choice, between protecting the morale of the armed forces on one end and risking the faith and trust of the people of Kashmir on the other end, I earnestly hoped we would succeed in striking the balance of justice and fairness.”