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Army major lying to save himself, says Kashmiri man used as human shield

The Kashmiri shawl weaver who was used as a shawl weaver last month in Budgam, says Army major Leetul Gogoi lied to the media when he gave his version of the controversial incident to the media.

india Updated: May 24, 2017 19:19 IST
Abhishek Saha
Abhishek Saha
Hindustan Times, Budgam
Farooq Dar,Major Leetul Gogoi,Human shield
Farooq Dar who was tied to jeep last month accused army major Leetul Gogoi of lying in his statement to the media about the human shield incident. (Waseem Andrabi/HT Photo)

“The army major is lying to save himself”, said the Kashmiri shawl weaver Farooq Dar about Major Leetul Gogoi’s statement to the media on using him (Dar) as a human shield against stone pelters last month.

Major Gogoi, who had tied Dar to a jeep, told the media on Tuesday that catching the man who could have been a ring leader, gave the forces a chance to enter the polling station and save the staff.

“Had I been the ringleader of stone-pelting mobs, why would I have cast my vote?” asked Dar, adding that the army is there to save people and “not to use common people to shield themselves.”

Major Gogoi’s statement came a day after the Indian Army commended the major for his action on April 9.

Dar has vowed to never vote again.

“I won’t vote again after what they did to me. I will boycott voting,” Dar told HT on Tuesday. Dar was reportedly returning home after voting in the by-poll for Srinagar parliamentary election on April 9 when he was picked up by soldiers and tied to the jeep and driven around for 28km.

The by-poll witnessed large-scale violence and a very low voter turnout. The army said they were forced to use Dar as a human shield since the soldiers had come under attack from stone pelters.

A video of Dar being driven around tied to the jeep went viral, dividing the nation. While a section claimed it to be a gross violation of human rights, others defended the action of the army major.

On Monday, the army said Major Leetul Gogoi has been awarded the Chief of Army Staff’s Commendation card for “sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations, without specifying whether the award was particularly related to the jeep incident.

Sitting at his village home in Budgam district, around 70km from Srinagar, Dar kept repeating that “justice” was not done to him. “Insaaf nahi kiya mere saath” is what Dar repeated time and again.

“After the atrocity, I expected justice. But that wasn’t done,” he said.

Dar said he had been getting nightmares since the April 9 incident. “My mental peace is gone. “Till the day I am alive, the incident will haunt me. My life will never be the same again,” he said.

“I can’t sit alone. I get troubled. I go to the neighbour’s house or watch television. But I can’t concentrate on work. Only Allah knows when I can restart working again,” Dar said. He hasn’t woven a single shawl since the incident.

His brother Ghulam Qadir said a “depressed” Dar had to be taken to Srinagar’s SMHS hospital for treatment some 20 days after the incident. “The doctors told my brother not to think too much about the incident and take maximum care of himself,” Qadir said.

First Published: May 23, 2017 20:28 IST