SRINAGAR: Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) Monday directed the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakhs to Farooq Ahmad Dar, who was used as a human shield by army during central Kashmir’s Budgam district on April 9 this year.
“I have no doubt in my mind that Farooq was subjected to torture and humiliation besides being wrongly confined. It was medically also established that he didn’t suffer only humiliation publicly but also suffered trauma, which resulted in psychiatric stress which may remain with him for rest of his life,” SHRC chairman Justice (Retd) Bilal Nazki said in a judgement today.
He directed the PDP-BJP coalition government to pay Rs 10 lakhs as compensation to the victim.
Farooq, an embroidery artistan and resident of village Chill in Budgam, was tied to a bonnet of an army vehicle by Army Major Leetul Gogoi during bypolls to Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary seat on April 9 and paraded in over a dozen villages to prevent stone pelting.
The army vehicle had also made announcement that the “stone pelters will meet the same fate”.
The incident had triggered outrage in the Valley while the Army Chief General Rawat, union ministers and BJP leaders backed Major Gogoi for using Farooq as a human shield against stone pelters.
The SHRC chief’s judgement says the police report has accepted that Farooq was tied to a bonnet of army vehicle and used as a human shield by army.
“There cannot be any debate as to whether the treatment meted to Farooq was violation of human rights of not but there are law in this country and international laws, which prohibit such a treatment even to a convict,” read the judgement.
It said such a treatment meted to a human being cannot be accepted by a civilized society.
“This Commission, however, is handcuffed to go into the conduct of army, who are allegedly responsible for the incident, according Farooq and the State police. Because of the limited applicability of the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 to the State of J&K,” the judgement reads.
The SHRC chief asked the State chief secretary to file a compliance report before the commission within six weeks.
The judgement is recommendatory in nature and would need the approval of the state government for implementation.
The commission was hearing an application moved by human rights activist Ahsan Untoo. Untoo is also chairman, International Forum for Justice and Protection of Human Rights.
Invoking section 1 of Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the SHRC chief chose not issue any notice to the Central government or the Armed forces.
“But, the fact remains that the protection of life and liberty of the people is basic responsibility of state government even if it seeks assistance of central forces to deal with law and order situation. The responsibility of state to protect its citizens and their rights can’t be diluted or abdicated,” read the SHRC judgement.
It observed that as far as law on protection of human dignity is concerned, the law of this country as a general principle doesn’t permit even chaining and handcuffing of any person including convicts.
The judgement questioned how one can approve making an innocent person a human shield, and parading him in chains tied to a jeep for hours.
In view of police report, Farooq has been subjected to human rights violation and therefore the J&K government can’t escape from the responsibility of having failed to protect the human rights of a citizen, it said.
The SHRC judgement, however, said since the commission was not able to go into question as to whether Indian army was responsible for this act of gross human rights violations or not, the observations made in the judgement should not be taken as an expression of any opinion regarding alleged involvement of officers of Indian army.