The New York-based world rights body, Human Rights Watch has criticized the Indian Army’s recent actions in occupied Kashmir where a civilian was tied to the front of a jeep and used a human shield, terming it as violation of domestic and international laws.
According to media sources, Major Gogoi had strapped a civilian, Farooq Ahmed Dar, to the bonnet of his jeep on April 9, 2017 in a Budgam area during the so-called Indian Parliamentary by-elections and paraded him in many villages for several hours. On May 22, Major Leetul Gogoi was awarded with Army Chief’s Commendation Card for his inhuman action. Indian defense minister, Arun Jaitley, Information and Broadcasting Minister, Venkaiah Naidu, Attorney General, Mukul Rohatgi, and Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat have publicly expressed support for Major Gogoi’s inhuman action.
The HRW in a statement posted on its website said that despite a pending inquiry against the officer who ordered the action, the Army chief awarded him a medal, spurring a fresh round of outrage. “The Army chief’s action undermines accountability and the stature of the military,” it added.
Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia Director at Human Rights Watch, said, support by senior army and government officials for a lawless action merely fans the flames of future lawlessness by the Indian forces.
The Indian army’s mistreatment of Dar violates his right to liberty and security and the prohibition against “torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, as set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the HRW said.
“Public outrage over the army’s treatment of Dar prompted the army to announce an inquiry into the incident. However, rewarding Gogoi for his actions while the inquiry is ongoing indicates that genuine accountability is unlikely,” Human Rights Watch said. Various senior officials, in praising Gogoi, discounted or disregarded the unlawful aspects of his actions, it said.
“Successive Indian governments have resisted international scrutiny of the Kashmir situation by reassuring concerned governments that steps have been taken to curb human rights violations,” Meenakshi Ganguly said. “Public praise by senior officials for an act of outrageous cruelty should put to rest any belief that the government is serious about holding security force personnel to account for serious abuses,” she added.
It is to mention here that the HRW is not the first to point out the risk of valorising such human rights violations. It is also not a surprise that the Indian army publicly rewarded Major Leetul Gogoi for his brutal action. Some Indian politicians and even retired Army officers to the ranks of Lieutenant Generals and the Amnesty International have also shown strong resentment against the act of Major Gogoi and awarding him by the Indian Army Chief.