SRINAGAR: A day after the Indian army awarded Major Leetul Gogoi, who had tied a man to a jeep in central Kashmir’s Budgam district as a human shield against stone pelters last month, Jammu and Kashmir police, on Tuesday, said it has not quashed the FIR into the April 9 incident. The police said investigations will continue.
“An FIR has been registered by the police into the human shield incident and investigation will be carried on. The FIR has not been quashed,” Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Munir Khan told reporters in Sopore in North Kashmir.
On April 9, during by-polls to the Srinagar parliamentary seat, the army officer had tied a Kashmiri man Farooq Ahmad Dar of Chill village of Budgam district on the bonnet of an army vehicle as a human shield against stone pelting. The man was in at least a dozen villages of central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
The video of the incident shot in Beerwah area had gone viral on April 14. In the video, an announcement was being made indicating stone-pelters will meet the same fate.
The police had registered an FIR against the army after outrage over the incident in the Valley.
“Once the FIR is lodged investigation begins. What comes out of the investigation is something different,” IGP Kashmir said. “We will share the result of the investigation,” he added.
The IGP’s statement assumes significance as it comes a day after the army announced that Major Gogoi has been awarded by army chief’s ‘Commendation Card’ for his ‘sustained efforts’ in counter-insurgency operations.
Farooq Ahmad Dar, a shawl weaver who had been taken as a human shield by the army major, had told media that he had cast his vote and was headed to visit his sister's house when he was picked up by personnel of the 53 Rashtria Rifles.
He had said that he was released after being paraded in at least a dozen villages over 28 kilometres.
Reacting to the honouring of the army Major who used him as a shield, Farooq said, “Justice is murdered and cruelty promoted. For casting my vote, they took me as a human shield. I will never vote again.”
Opposition National Conference spokesman said Major Gogoi being honoured is a slap across the face of the mainstream in Kashmir. “I feel ashamed, disgusted and hopeless. What a travesty,” he said.
Hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani said honouring an army officer, who used a Kashmiri youth as a shield, is extremely distressing and a shameful act.
“Honoring such an officer clearly vindicates our stand that this is State sponsored policy and if not stopped it will prove detrimental for human lives,” he said.
Geelani said the International Court of Justice should take suo-moto action against Major Leetul Gogoi.
The army had last Monday said inquiry into the human shield incident is yet to be completed.
“The Court of Inquiry ordered into the incident wherein a civilian was tied to an Army jeep is still incomplete,” Defence spokesman in Srinagar, Colonel Rajesh Kalia had said.