Kashmir human shield victim calls Major Gogoi's award illegal, files complaint with SHRC
Farooq Ahmad Dar complained to SHRC that since an investigation into Major Gogoi's 'gruesome act' was underway, why did the Indian Army award him.
Twenty-six-year-old Farooq Ahmad Dar, the Kashmiri man who was tied to the bonnet of an Indian Army jeep and paraded through the streets of Srinagar – during the Srinagar parliamentary seat byelection on 9 April – has described the award conferred on Major Leetul Gogoi recently as illegal.
Major Gogoi, who had strapped Dar to his jeep, was feted with the COAS 'commendation card' for his sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations on Monday.
Dar has now approached the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), to seek an explanation as to why the army awarded Major Gogoi, while the inquiry into the incident was still underway. He also sought action against three TV news channels – India Today, Times Now and Republic TV – demanding that they restrain from referring to him as a stone-pelter.
As per the complaints filed before the Commission, Dar has sought action on two counts, one against the army and the other against the three news channels. The complaints have been filed through the chairman of International Forum For Justice and Human Rights, Mohammad Ahsan Untoo.
As per the complaints, copies of which were retrieved by Firstpost, it has been noted that Major Gogoi, who is in charge of the 53 Rashtriya Rifles, had used Dar as a human shield while dealing with a law and order situation. This action, as per the complaint, is in violation of local as well as international laws.
"The complainant has learnt through the medium of local and national newspapers that Major Gogoi has been awarded for the said act, which is not only illegal but against the settled principles of international humanitarian law," noted the complaint.
The complaint also referred to an earlier police report furnished in the case before the Commission, in which eye-witnesses had been cited as part of the preliminary inquiry. The report revealed that Dar was lifted by the army and was tied to the bonnet of the vehicle. Later, he was also kept under "wrongful confinement."
As per the complaint, the police has disclosed that the investigation into the case is underway and that "correspondence has been made with the army with respect to the same."
Untoo said Major Gogoi’s argument, that he tied Dar to the vehicle to save "innocent lives", doesn’t hold ground as on the day of the incident eight people were killed and 346 others, including 132 government personnel, were injured.
"The area from where the civilian was tied to the bonnet of the army vehicle had not witnessed any stone-pelting," Untoo said.
Dar had said that he was not part of any stone-pelting mob and that he had gone to attend a mourning for one his relatives in the area. "This is grossly inhumane... to turn me into a stone-pelter. I am still under trauma and now the entire case is being turned against me, whereas I am the victim," he said.
In the complaint, Dar further asked that the since the investigation into the "gruesome act" was still underway, why was it necessary for the army to award Major Gogoi, who had resorted to the illegal act.
In another complaint filed before the Commission, Dar noted that it has not been proven anywhere that he had indulged in stone-pelting on the day of the incident.
"That the complainant wants to bring to the notice of this Commission an important fact... that nowhere has it been found that Farooq Ahmad Dar was either participating in any protest or was indulging in stone pelting," read the complaint.
"In all the (news) debates, while defending the action of the army officer, they (TV channels) have been referring to the victim as a stone-pelter. I have already undergone trauma due to the acts of the army officer and the media houses are aggravating my agony, that too without any evidence," the complaint further read.
Noting that since the Commission had taken cognizance of the complaint, and the investigation in the case was underway, Dar said that a restraint order should be passed against the said media houses, for referring to him as stone pelter.
"The police is saying that the investigation is still going on. What kind of investigation is it, when no action has been taken against the army personnel. None has been arrested," Untoo said.
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