Army award to major – who may face “war crime” charge – is “murder of justice”, says Kashmiri human shield

It’s a murder of justice,” says Farooq Ahmad Dar, the Kashmiri who was tied in front of an army jeep as a human shield against stone-pelters on the orders of major Leetul Gogoi and who has received an Army’s award.

Major Gogoi continues to defend his decision, claiming that he chose not to fire a bullet and his human shield plan worked in saving 12 lives.

But that’s not how the victim sees it.

"This is not justice. They just murdered justice by supporting abuse and oppression”, Dar told the Times of India.

"My question to the Army and the Major who has been awarded is: Would you have tied your own son to the bonnet of the Army jeep to rescue the soldiers or to prevent stone-pelting?

"They are the Army and they should have fought their battle against the stone-pelters on their own instead of making me a shield. How can the Army abuse common people for their war?"

Dar who embroiders shawls for a living added he is still traumatized by the event as is unable to do any work. He said he was hospitalized for a few days and later asked to seek counselling for post-traumatic stress disorder.

According to the report in The Times of India the police filed an FIR against the Army on April 15, charging them with kidnapping and endangering Dar's life. The Army, too, initiated an internal investigation, the report of which is still awaited.

Though the report is awaited the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS), General Bipin Rawat thought it fit to announce his “on-the-spot” decision to honour the major. Such awards are normally announced on August 15 or January 26, according to an Indian Express report.  

In an exclusive interview to the Economic Times on Tuesday, the army chief said Major Leetul Gogoi took the right call when he decided to tie a Kashmiri man to the bonnet of a jeep and use him as human shield against stone-pelters. Rawat also said that while an inquiry was on against Gogoi for his actions, but he not believe that there was any reason for major action against the major.

The army chief is possibly unaware of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, to which India is a signatory, and which considers the use of human shields as a war crime: “The following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to [persons taking no active part in the hostilities] …  (b) the taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.”

Nor does the army chief and major Gogoi seem to be aware of, or care about, Article 13 of the 1956 New Delhi Draft Rules which provides: "Parties to the conflict are prohibited from placing or keeping members of the civilian population subject to their authority in or near military objectives, with the idea of inducing the enemy to refrain from attacking those objectives".




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