Major Leetul Gogoi could lose seniority
Major Leetul Gogoi, who hit the headlines in April 2017 for tying a Kashmiri civilian to his jeep, is likely to lose seniority by six months after a military court found him guilty of “fraternising” with a local woman in Srinagar last year in violation of rules, according to people aware of the development.
The loss of seniority means Gogoi would be unable to get further promotions, the people added.
An army inquiry last August found the conduct of Gogoi, who was detained by the police at a Srinagar hotel along with the woman in May 2018, violated the army’s rules as the officer was involved with her in a counter-insurgency zone. HT reported in August that the inquiry found he had left his location without permission.
Days after the incident, Army chief General Bipin Rawat had promised that “exemplary punishment” would be given to anyone found guilty of violating army rules. Gogoi had earlier tied Farooq Dar, the Kashmiri civilian, as a human shield to the front of his jeep apparently to prevent stone-throwing protesters from targeting his convoy on the day by-elections were being held to the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat on April 9, 2017.
The army stood firmly behind Gogoi in the face of outrage over the issue. He was later awarded the chief of Army staff’s commendation card for “sustained efforts” in counter-insurgency operations even as the incident sparked protests in the Kashmir.
Gogoi, who qualified to become an officer in 2008 years after joining the army, was detained at the Srinagar hotel in 2018 after an altercation with the owner who had refused to allow a woman to enter the hotel to meet Gogoi. Gogoi, who had booked the room online in his name, was shifted out of his unit immediately afterwards. He had initially maintained that he was meeting locals to “gather intelligence”. However, he did not take the same plea during the inquiry.
Gogoi’s driver, Sameer Malla, who helped the officer contact the woman, also faced the court-martial proceedings along with the officer. Malla, too, is likely to face a “serious reprimand,” said an army officer.