Indian media reports acquittal of officer who used Kashmiri as human shield, army denies claim

The Indian Army has denied Indian media reports that an Indian Army Court of Inquiry (COI) had acquitted an army officer accused of tying a Kashmiri man to his jeep, using him as a human-shield while patrolling in India-held Kashmir on April 9, saying that the COI has yet to reach a conclusion in the matter.

In April, a video had circulated on social media showing a young man, later discovered to be 26-year-old shawl maker Farooq Ahmad Dar, strapped to the front of an olive-green vehicle with a sign pinned to his chest declaring him to be a stone-pelter.

The incident had once again raised concerns over the violation of human rights by Indian armed forces in held Kashmir, prodding the Indian army to investigate the incident, which reportedly occurred in Budgam district.

Early on Monday, Indian media, citing unnamed sources, had reported that the COI investigating the incident had acquitted Major Nitin Gogoi, praising him for having the “presence of mind to avoid casualties or injuries” and “avoid” stone pelting on forces.

Gogoi was said to be serving in held-Kashmir with the Rashtriya Rifles branch of the Indian military.

However, “The Court of Inquiry concerned with the incident wherein a civilian was tied to an Army jeep is still incomplete. Reports in some sections of the media of the Major being given a clean chit are speculative,” Scroll.in quoted the Indian Army as saying Monday evening.

‘Am I a toy or a human being?’

Dar, who was tied to the jeep by men in Gogoi’s battalion, conservatively estimated he was paraded for at least 20-25 kilometres.

After they were done patrolling, Dar says he was taken to a Central Reserve Paramilitary Force camp in Hardapanzoo where he said he was “still tied up and not offered water”.

Later, Dar said he was taken on another ride, this time inside a jeep.

He recounted his story several times to journalists who had sought him out after the video was leaked on social media.

“Am I a toy or a human being?” he said, “The government should take action against” the army personnel.

Describing the effects of the beating, he said, “There are no bruises over the surface but I am hurt on the inside.”

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah had tweeted the video when it first emerged, exclaiming how a lack of action about the Kashmiri youth’s handling frustrated him.

Referring to a separate video showing an Indian security official being beaten up by by a group of enraged Kashmiris, “I understand the outrage the Central Reserve Police Force video generated. I’m also outraged that the video of the youth on the jeep won’t generate the same anger,” he said.

Source: https://www.dawn.com
Updated On: 16-05-2017

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