In a move that is likely to rake up a controversy, Jammu and Kashmir Human Rights Commission on Monday directed Mehbooba Mufti-led state government to award Rs 10 lakh compensation to the man who was allegedly used as a human shield by an Army major, ANI reported. Press Trust Of India reports that the compensation awarded to Dar was for the “humiliation, physical and psychiatric torture, stress, wrongful restraint and confinement” that he underwent when he was tied to the bonnet of an Army vehicle to ward off stone pelters, the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) observed in its judgement. “I have no doubt in my mind that Farooq Ahmad was subjected to torture and humiliation, besides (being) wrongly confined,” the judgement issued by SHRC chairperson Justice (retired) Bilal Nazki said. Army officer, Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi had tied a man to the front of a jeep to deter stone-pelters in Kashmir during polling, PTI had reported. The video of the man, who was termed as a ‘human shield’ by a section of media, had gone viral on social media within hours. The Army had ordered an internal enquiry in the matter. Later, Major Gogoi was cleared of all charges and was even awarded by the Army for his presence of mind. While on the other hand, family of the man, identified as Farooq Ahmed Dar, claimed that he was innocent and was not part of the stone pelting mob.
A number of top politicians including Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, and Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had come out in support of the Army major. While a section of politicians and media had also criticised the move. Defending major Gogoi, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley had said that the Army officer used his presence of mind and saved a number of lives. “We will not compromise with the terrorists and the separatists. How else should a military official deal with such a situation? He used his discretion towards national benefit,” Jaitley had said. Defending the major further, Jaitley said, “These are not actions that are derived by politics; ultimately, he did not harm the man (Farooq Dar)”.
As the controversy snowballed, the officer himself came out in open and clarified his act. Speaking to media, Major Gogoi explained how he saved so many lives without using a single bullet. “The crowd was not listening to us. At that moment of time, suddenly in my mind, the idea of tying him (Dar) up on to the vehicle came. As soon as I ordered boys to tie him up in the vehicle, stone pelting had stopped for a while and that was the fraction of the moment when I got a window to come out safely from that place. Immediately I asked all my boys to get inside the vehicle and we moved out from the area,” Gogoi had said. “This thing, I did only to save the local people. Had I fired, there would have been more than 12 casualties, which I didn’t do. But with this idea, I have saved many people’s lives. There were 1200 stone pelters and those whom I went to rescue,” he added.