Millennium Post

Major in 'human shield' incident gets Army chief's commendation card

An Indian Army Major who was involved in tying up a Kashmiri man to the front of a jeep to ward off stone pelters in Kashmir Valley has been awarded the Army Chief's Commendation Card, Army sources said on Monday.

The commendation card for Major Leetul Gogoi of 53 Rashtriya Rifles was given for "sustained efforts" in counter insurgency operations, Army officials said.

Army officials did not say if the human shield incident had anything to do with the award.

A video, shot on April 9 during the Srinagar by-polls held amid violent incidents, showed a man, later identified as Farooq Ahmad Dar, being tied to the bonnet of an army jeep with a placard in Badgam of Jammu and Kashmir.

The video went viral on social media and created uproar. An FIR was registered by the Jammu and Kashmir police against the security forces.

On April 15, the Army constituted a court of inquiry in the incident, and a report is pending.

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, referring to the incident on Friday, had backed the officer, saying it should not be forgotten that the officer had responsibility to save the lives of those involved in the election process as well as the crowd that had gathered.

"Let us not forget the army is a responsible institution and the army was also interested in saving lives of various people who were involved in the election process and also the large crowd of people who had gathered there to protest," Jaitley said.

Gogoi also got support from both serving and former Army officers.

Former Army Chief General V.P. Malik (retired) had told IANS after the incident that he would keep the "exceptional circumstances" in which the step was taken in mind while judging the case, though he agreed that the officer did violate the Army code on human rights.

On similar lines, Former Army Chief General Bikram Singh (retired) had called the incident an "aberration".

According to the Indian Army's website, a Commendation Card is awarded for "individual acts of gallantry or distinguished service or devotion to duty performed either in operation or non-operational areas which are not of a sufficiently high order to qualify for a higher gallantry award or for which the higher award is inappropriate. The award will be for a specific act of bravery or distinguished service or special service".
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