Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has questioned whether Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi, who tied a Kashmiri man to a jeep as a human shield against stone-pelting, has the right to pronounce judgment and carry out the punitive action that he did, according to Indian Express report. He also said Farooq Ahmed Dar’s, who was tied to the jeep, rights were tossed out of the window. Abdullah claimed that Gogoi’s move has dehumanised Dar as a toy. Abdullah alleged that there will be plenty of such situations in the future. He asked whether we have set a precedent that allows an individual officer to take the law into his own hands and use an Indian citizen as a human shield as and when he deems it appropriate and necessary — to “save lives”? His sharp remarks come after Gogoi was honoured with the Army Chief’s commendation card for his sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations.
As per IE report, Omar claimed that Gogoi’s act is a violation of the Geneva Convention, a violation of the Constitution of India and a violation of the military code. The majority condoning or condemning this action is irrelevant so long as we are still governed by the constitution and the law of the land, and not majoritarianism. Pertinently and most recently, the Geneva Convention was invoked in the case of Kulbhushan Jadhav, and rightly so. Can we morally afford to mock the same convention in Kashmir, which clearly and unequivocally categorises the use of human shields as a “war crime”— no ifs or buts, he asked.
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Abdullah said that the idea of India lies in the ability of the state and its institutions to be good in Kashmir — regardless of the circumstances. While we still await the verdict of the army’s court of inquiry into the Budgam incident, We have been told the commendation is a general reward and appreciation of Major Gogoi’s service in counterinsurgency operations and not specific to what happened in Budgam, said Abdullah.
Abdullah yesterday denounced as “farce” the Army’s court of inquiry against Major Gogoi. “In future, please don’t bother with the farce of a military court of inquiry. Clearly the only court that matters is the court of public opinion,” Abdullah wrote on Twitter. A video, showing the man tied to the army vehicle during polling in the Srinagar Lok Sabha by-election on 9 April, had triggered a controversy, prompting the Army to institute a probe and the police to register a case against the officer. Abdullah suggested that the governemt was adopting double standards on issues of human rights violations.
“And international conventions like the Geneva/Vienna ones only count when India can accuse others of violations. Do as we say, not as we do,” the National Conference working president said.