Army Major Gogoi who tied Kashmiri man to jeep has legal trouble headed his way, but can’t be arrested
Major Leetul Gogoi, who was praised and pilloried in equal measure for his act of tying a Kashmiri man to a jeep as a human shield against stone-pelting, has said his idea saved many lives.analysis Updated: May 26, 2017 07:18 IST
Major Leetul Gogoi, the officer in the eye of the “human shield”storm has trouble coming his way. Kashmir Police, who registered an FIR in the case last month have refused to drop the case against him.
So what happens to the case from here on?
Kashmir Police can carry on the investigation against the officer but they cannot arrest him.
In case they want to question the officer, the cops can at the best go to the army cantonment and question him under the supervision of army officers.
At the completion of the investigation, a chargesheet will be filed in a criminal court against the officer.
It is at this stage that the army will step in and inform the court that the officer should not be tried in the normal criminal court. The army will offer to court martial the officer. Meanwhile the parallel proceedings of Court of Inquiry by the army really have no meaning as a criminal investigation is still under way.
On March 24, 2000, five civilians from south Kashmir, including a 50-year-old man, were killed by the Army in an alleged fake encounter in Pathribal. The Army dubbed the victims foreign militants belonging to the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and said they were responsible for the killing of 35 Sikhs in Chattisinghpora.
However, subsequently allegations emerged that the men were civilians picked up from different parts of south Kashmir and killed in a fake encounter, following which their bodies were charred beyond recognition.
In January 2014, the Army gave itself a clean chit in the Pathribal encounter case and decided not to court martial its seven top officers, saying there was no evidence to proceed against them.
Following widespread protests, the Jammu and Kashmir government ordered the exhumation of bodies and DNA tests to ascertain the identity of the men killed by the Army. Investigations confirmed that the men were civilians who had gone missing from south Kashmir.
The case was handed over to the CBI, which charged five Army officers — Ajay Saxena, Brijendra Pratap Singh, Sourabh Sharma, Amit Saxena and Idress Khan, all belonging to the 7 Rashtriya Rifles — with abduction, murder, criminal conspiracy and destruction of evidence.
While the CBI filed a chargesheet against the Army officers before the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Srinagar, the Army objected on the grounds that prior sanction under AFSPA is needed for prosecuting Army officials. The objection, however, was turned down by the court.
After failing to get reprieve from the local court and the J&K High Court, the Army moved the Supreme Court which, in 2012, gave the Army full discretion to choose between a court martial and a criminal trial for accused officers. The Army chose court martial, but later exonerated all five officers for want of evidence.