Human Rights

Human shield case: Jammu and Kashmir rights body seeks fresh report on army officer Major Leetul Gogoi’s actions

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Tuesday directed the Senior Superintendent of Police of (SSP) of Budgam to submit the final report in the case against Major Leetul Gogoi, who is facing criminal charges of illegally confining a Kashmiri youth in April last year. The case is related to the “human shield” incident, wherein the army officer had tied a shawl maker, Farooq Ahmad Dar, to a vehicle — allegedly as a shield against stone pelters — and paraded him on different streets during the Srinagar parliamentary bypolls.

The order came even as the police said the video featuring Dar being paraded around in Budgam could have been even morphed. Sub-Divisional Police Officer of Magam, Showkat Ahmad, said the police were waiting for the forensic report to check the authenticity of the clip.

A Kashmiri man was used as a human shield by Major Leetul Gogoi. Firstpost/Suhail Bhat

Farooq Ahmad Dar was used as a human shield by Major Leetul Gogoi. Firstpost/Suhail Bhat

“We are waiting for the report from the Forensic Science Laboratory in Chandigarh. We have reminded them to submit the report on priority and have to see whether the video is morphed,” he said.

The SHRC order came a day after an army Court of Inquiry held Major Gogoi guilty of violating the Army Act for “fraternising with local people and staying away from his place of posting at Beerwah in Budgam without authorisation”.

The commission issued the order on a plea Dar filed in the case through the International Forum for Justice and Human Rights. The bench of the human rights panel, comprising Justice Bilal Nazki and Justice Jang Bahadur, issued the direction, ordering the SSP of Budgam to file the final status report. It also directed the Jammu and Kashmir government to submit its report on action taken in the case within four weeks.

While the police have been asked to file a report on the criminal charges filed against Gogoi, the state government has been directed to apprise the rights body in detail about its reasons for denying the “human shield” victim compensation of Rs 10 lakh for wrongful confinement. The government had earlier told the SHRC that there is no policy to provide such a compensation.

On 10 July last year, two months after Gogoi used Dar as a “human shield” against stone pelters, the rights commission had called his actions illegal and directed the Jammu and Kashmir government to compensate him. It had given the state six weeks to comply with its order.

On 29 April this year, the Jammu and Kashmir SHRC had reserved its verdict in the case. But as the police submitted before the panel that the investigation was still on, the commission asked the investigators to file the final report in the case within four weeks.

The chairman of the International Forum for Justice and Human Rights, Mohammad Ahsan Untoo, said: “The army has not been cooperating in the case. Instead, it gave the Chief of Army Staff’s (COAS) Commendation Card to Major Gogoi. Major Gogoi tied a voter to the front of a vehicle and endangered his life. The COAS commendation should be withdrawn.”

Untoo said it was unbecoming of the army to hail Gogoi’s actions and award him the commendation, when both the human rights commission and the local police had described his methods as illegal.

He also said that the Court of Inquiry report, which held the army officer guilty after he was caught with a local Kashmiri woman at a hotel in Srinagar, should be made public.

On 23 May, Gogoi was detained with a local woman at a hotel near Dal Lake in Srinagar, after which the forum filed a case against him before the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate. It alleged that the police had exhibited laxity and let the officer off without filing an FIR against him. The magistrate has also reserved the verdict in the case, which was deferred on Tuesday. In the application Untoo filed before the magistrate, he had also noted that Major Gogoi had “intention to carry out an immoral act” with the woman.

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