Was I an animal, asks Farooq Dar who was tied to a jeep by Major Gogoi
An Indian Army Major involved in tying up a Kashmiri man to a jeep bonnet to ward off stone-pelters in Kashmir has been awarded the Army chief’s Commendation Card for sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations.
Which law in the country makes use of human shield legal?
That’s the only question Farooq Dar, the weaver from Chill village in central Kashmir’s Budgam district who was tied to a jeep by army on election day in April, has for those supporting Major Leetul Gogoi’s action.
“If it was legal under any Indian law, what can I possibly say,” he asked. “I can’t pick up a stick and go and fight with those honouring the officer,” a disheartened Dar told HT. Dar however has a very stern question to what he calls humanity.
“I want to ask only one thing, was I an animal that I was tied and exhibited,?” he asked. “Kya mein koi bhains ya bail tha”,” (Was I a buffalo or a bull?”).
Although army says the officer was not honoured for his action in Budgam, Kashmir’s main opposition, National Conference feels “the honour is akin to condoning the action”.
“You are not even waiting for your own court to give a verdict but honouring a man who is was being probed for something as bizarre as using a human shield,” said Junaid Matto, NC spokesman.
“Can it happen in a civil department. The officer has been given a clean chit by the defence minister, the enquiry is a sham,” Mattoo added.
Moderate separatist Mirwaiz Umar Farooq said that the honour has not “come as a shock to Kashmiris”.
“This is how army has been conducting itself in Kashmir for so long”. Mirwaiz said. It’s a “clear message as to how Indian authorities are rewarding human rights violators in the Valley and all the enquiries are a farce. It also shows how they view Kashmiri sentiment which was so hurt by the incident.”
Meanwhile life has changed drastically for Dar. He says more than the physical trauma it is his mental health which seems to have taken a hit.
“My ankles and muscles still ache. What is worse however is that I am unable to leave my village. Even if I step out of the home, I take someone along,” Dar said.
Dar who was part of miniscule population that voted in the Lok Sabha bypoll on April 9, has pledged never to vote again. “I will never ever step out of the house on election day, that’s my promise to myself,” he said.
The ruling PDP was not available for comment.