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J-K govt rejects state rights panel’s demand for compensation to ‘human shield’

The Kashmir ‘human shield’ incident had created a huge row, with civil society activists alleging gross rights violations by the Indian Army.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2017 21:21 IST
Abhishek Saha
Abhishek Saha
Srinagar, Hindustan Times
Human shield,Indian Army,Leetul Gogoi
A screengrab of a video showing Farooq Ahmed Dar tied to a jeep as a ‘human shield’ against protesters.The video had triggered outrage in Kashmir.(Twitter)

The Jammu and Kashmir government has rejected the state human rights commission’s (SHRC) recommendation for paying monetary compensation to Farooq Dar, a weaver who was used as a “human shield” by the army to allegedly escape a stone-pelting mob during the parliamentary bypoll in April.

SHRC chairman Justice Bilal Nazki had in July directed the state government to pay Rs 10 lakh in compensation to Dar, who was tied to the front of an army jeep by Major Leetul Gogoi and allegedly driven around for five hours through 17 villages on April 9 – the day parliamentary by-elections in Srinagar constituency saw protests and stone-pelting at several polling booths.

The government had rejected the SHRC recommendation through a note on October 27, but details of its reply emerged in the local media only on Monday.

The “human shield” incident had created a huge row, with civil society activists alleging gross rights violations by the Indian army and the latter choosing to award Major Gogoi with the Chief of the Army Staff’s commendation card.

In its July recommendation, the SHRC had said it “does not have jurisdiction over the army”. A police inquiry report in September said that Dar had cast his vote before he was picked up by the army major and used as a “human shield”.

HT has a copy of the government’s reply to the SHRC – signed by deputy secretary home department Mushtaq Ahmed.

In its four-point rebuttal to the SHRC, the home department said the recommendation cannot be accepted because: “That no allegations as regards violation of human rights of the applicant have been levelled against the state government or any of its functionary. The state government has discharged its obligation by registering FIR number 378/ 2017 in the matter at police station and consequently initiating the investigation.”

“That pending completion of the investigation in the matter, the recommendation with regard to payment of compensation to the complainant shall tantamount to establish the guilt of the accused without affording him an opportunity of being heard.”

The response also observed that there was no “scheme or policy” in place that could “cover the payment of compensation in matters like the present case”.

It added that since the SHRC had observed in its recommendation that it cannot go into the conduct of the army – which is allegedly responsible for the incident – hence, the SHRC “lacks jurisdiction to entertain and adjudicate upon the present matter”.

When contacted on Monday evening for his reaction, home secretary RK Goyal refused to comment, saying he would speak “during office hours”.

However, Dilshad Ahmad Baba, secretary of the SHRC, confirmed to HT that they had received the home department’s reply, but refused to comment further.

Speaking to the local media at Srinagar’s Press Enclave on Monday, Dar said he was disappointed with the development, adding that it was difficult for him to make both ends meet after the “human shield” incident.

First Published: Nov 06, 2017 21:20 IST