Major Gogoi found guilty in woman visitor case, Army orders action

By: | Published: August 28, 2018 12:42 AM

At the centre of a row ever since he tied a civilian to a jeep as a ‘human shield’ against protesters hurling stones during the Srinagar bypolls last year, Major Leetul Gogoi has been found guilty by a court of inquiry (CoI) in a case where he was seen with a local Kashmiri woman in a Srinagar hotel on May 23. Orders have been issued by the Army to initiate disciplinary action against him.

The CoI, headed by a Brigadier, took the testimonies of Major Gogoi, other Army officers concerned besides checking documents dealing with the case. Major Gogoi did not contest the charges. (File photo: ANI)

At the centre of a row ever since he tied a civilian to a jeep as a ‘human shield’ against protesters hurling stones during the Srinagar bypolls last year, Major Leetul Gogoi has been found guilty by a court of inquiry (CoI) in a case where he was seen with a local Kashmiri woman in a Srinagar hotel on May 23. Orders have been issued by the Army to initiate disciplinary action against him.

On August 4, The Indian Express reported that the CoI would hold Major Gogoi guilty on two counts, and the findings of the CoI were awaiting approval of the Corps Commander of Srinagar-based 15 Corps.

Sources said the findings of the CoI were approved by the Corps Commander last week, and orders have been issued to initiate disciplinary action against the officer. The inquiry found Major Gogoi guilty on two counts: one, fraternising with a local in spite of official instructions to the contrary, and two, being away from the place of duty while in an operational area.

On May 23, Major Gogoi, along with a local Kashmiri woman and one Sameer Ahmed, also in the Army, were questioned at a police station in Srinagar following an altercation at the Hotel Grand Mamta after the staff refused to let the woman in. On May 31, J&K police, in its status report to a Srinagar court, had said that “no case is made out against Gogoi and neither the hotelier nor the girl had filed any complaint”,

The CoI, headed by a Brigadier, took the testimonies of Major Gogoi, other Army officers concerned besides checking documents dealing with the case. Major Gogoi did not contest the charges.

The process of disciplinary action will start with the recording of evidence which will then lead to framing of charges against the officer. Based on the charges and the evidence garnered, either a Summary General Court Martial (SGCM) or a General Court Martial (GCM) will be convened by the Army. After the Court Martial completes the trial and gives its judgement, the judgement would be approved by an appropriate authority in the Army as per military law.

Sources in the Army declined to discuss the likely punishment which could be awarded to Major Gogoi as it would mean pre-judging a judicial process currently underway.

The decision to initiate disciplinary action against him follows the statement of the Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat, after the incident involving the Kashmiri woman. On May 26, General Rawat had said in Pahalgam: “If Major Gogoi has done something wrong, I assure you, he will be punished and the punishment will be such that it will set an example.”

The Army Chief had supported Major Gogoi last year after his act of tying a civilian to a jeep during the Srinagar bypoll as a “human shield” against a mob pelting stones. The officer, posted with a Rashtriya Rifles battalion, was awarded the Chief of Army Staff Commendation Card by General Rawat for his action.

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