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Kashmir 'human shield' case: Army court gives clean chit to officer, praises him for 'presence of mind'

An Indian Army court on Monday exonerated Major Nitin Gogoi over the issue of tying a youth, Farooq Ahmad Dar, to the bonnet of a moving jeep in Jammu and Kashmir's Budgam on 9 April, which he said was done to "avoid" stone pelting on the armed forces.

The Army Court of Inquiry (COI) had ordered a probe after the police registered an FIR regarding the incident.

Army sources said Gogoi was praised by the Court of Inquiry for "presence of mind" to avoid casualties or injuries.

A video of Dar tied to the front of a moving army jeep to serve as a human shield against stone pelters had evoked anger and shock in Kashmir.

The army had said it is investigating the video. "In reference to the video showing a young man tied to an army jeep, the contents of the video are being verified and investigated," a defence spokesman had said in Srinagar.

Screenshot of the YouTube video.

Screenshot from the YouTube video.

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah had expressed shock, posting on Twitter, "This young man was tied to the front of an army jeep to make sure no stones were thrown at the jeep? This is just so shocking!"

He had called for an inquiry: "A warning can be heard (in the video) saying stone pelters will meet this fate. This requires an urgent inquiry and follow up now."

The video had reportedly been shot in the Beerwah area of Budgam district, where miscreants disrupted polling during Sunday's bypoll to the Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency by pelting stones. It is being widely shared on social media in Kashmir and is drawing condemnation.

In the clip, an army soldier could be heard saying, "Those who throw stones will meet the same fate."

The video showed the army jeep moving ahead of an army patrol, while some villagers could be overheard that the youth had been picked by the army.

The Jammu and Kashmir police later filed an FIR against the army. The police registered the FIR against the army's 53 Rashtriya Rifles unit in the Beerwah police station in Budgam district.

According to the report, the investigation into the matter had been ordered by chief minister Mehbooba Mufti after the video went viral online. The army, meanwhile, conducted its own internal probe into the matter.

The Centre also decided to back Gogol, after an army probe concluded that the officer was forced to to take the decision as a last-minute resort to stop rampaging stone-pelters.

With inputs from agencies 

Updated Date: May 15, 2017 15:14 PM

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