Indian Army rewards Major who used human shield in Jammu and Kashmir

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Indian Army rewards Major who used human shield in Jammu and Kashmir
Indian Army rewards Major who used human shield in Jammu and Kashmir

New Delhi : 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, Army sources said on Monday.

The Commendation Card for Major Leetul Gogoi of 53 Rashtriya Rifles was given for "sustained efforts" in counter-insurgency operations, Army officials said.

"Major Leetul Gogoi has been recently awarded the Army chief's Commendation Card for his sustained distinguished service till now in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir," an official source said.

The sources said all factors, including notable performance of the officer and overall emerging indicators of Court of Inquiry pending in the trying incident, have been "well-considered" while awarding the officer.

A video, shot on April 9 during the Srinagar by-poll held amid violence, showed a man, later identified as Farooq Ahmad Dar, tied to an Army jeep's bonnet with a placard in Budgam of Jammu and Kashmir.

The video went viral on social media and created an uproar. An FIR was registered by the Jammu and Kashmir Police against the security forces.

On April 15, the Army constituted a Court of Inquiry in the incident.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, referring to the incident on Friday, backed the officer, saying it should not be forgotten that the officer had responsibility to save the lives of those involved in the election process as well as the crowd that had gathered.

"Let us not forget the Army is a responsible institution and the Army was also interested in saving lives of people involved in the election process and also the large crowd of people who had gathered there to protest," Jaitley said.

Gogoi also got support from both serving and former Army officers.

Former Army chief General V.P. Malik had told IANS after the incident that he would keep the "exceptional circumstances" in which the step was taken in mind while judging the case, though he agreed that the officer did violate the Army code on human rights.

On similar lines, former Army chief General Bikram Singh had called the incident an "aberration".

According to the Army's website, a Commendation Card is awarded for "individual acts of gallantry or distinguished service or devotion to duty performed either in operation or non-operational areas which are not of a sufficiently high order to qualify for a higher gallantry award, or for which the higher award is inappropriate. The award will be for a specific act of bravery or distinguished service or special service".