Stop maligning Indian Army by revisiting Major Gogoi human shield controversy

Let's bury the incident and respect the Army for its role, rather than just seeking an opportunity to find fault and criticise it.

 |  3-minute read |   27-09-2017
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Following the news that Kashmiri local Farooq Ahmad Dar — who was tied to an Indian Army jeep during the Srinagar bypolls — had indeed cast his vote at the time, baiters of the forces have revisited the Major Leetul Gogoi controversy.

The officer is once again being maligned for an act that saved lives. Some anti-Army critics have been viewing the Jammu and Kashmir police report with a myopic vision, failing to comprehend the reality.

While the report stated that Dar had indeed voted in his home constituency and was passing through the region when he was picked up by the Army and tied to the vehicle led by Major Gogoi, it never mentioned who had resorted to stone pelting. That is impossible for the police to confirm, as everyone within the range of the Army vehicle was attacking it, and even threw petrol bombs at it.

Is it impossible to vote and not throw stones subsequently, when your peers are doing so?

None of these issues has been answered by the police report as it is nigh impossible to do so. Hence, those who have never experienced violence and attempted to save lives have resorted to drawing conclusions.

Subsequent NIA and ED investigations have proved incidents of violence against the Army were being funded by separatists.

gogoibd_052617031500_092717031256.jpgIs it impossible to vote and not throw stones subsequently, when your peers are doing so?

They reduced drastically post-demonetisation and have almost come to a standstill post the crackdown by NIA and ED. Hurriyat leader Shabir Shah and his ilk have openly admitted to funding every act of violence. Hence, even if Dar had voted and realised that an opportunity to make a few hundreds was coming his way, it is possible he joined the masses.

The police report has no comment on stone-throwing as everyone in the vicinity was indulging in it. Why should anti-Army armchair critics jump to conclusions over a single fact? Visualise the ground situation and then come to a logical assertion.

The Army would not have moved through the crowds and the melee of stone pelters to pick a person from the distance to solely tie him to their vehicle.

They neither had the time nor the opportunity as they were being targeted themselves. Hence Gogoi would not have singled out Dar.

The Army column facing the brunt of stone throwing was fighting against time to rescue those trapped, while few others were involved in removing the mud that had made the vehicle immobile.

Petrol bombs were being hurled, hence time was of essence. Thus, Major Gogoi would have grabbed the nearest stone thrower to add to the confusion. The situation required quick response and immediate action to save lives. In such cases, usually, the individual indulging in stone throwing, who is closest to the vehicle, is nabbed. This person could have been Dar.

The Army is not serving in Kashmir to enjoy such events. It was earlier battling the separatists who illegally funded violence and Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in the Valley. It drew criticism from all directions, even from armchair critics who were sitting in cosy corners hundreds of kilometres away from the region.

Since the NIA crackdown has made separatists ineffective, now the forces are battling Pakistan-sponsored terrorists every day. The Army is not an enemy of the people, but risking the lives of its own to protect locals and in the interest of national integrity.

Gogoi's Quick Reaction Team (QRT) was a small force surrounded by a mob of more than 900, struggling against time and seeking to avoid casualties. It performed its task admirably and the decision of Army chief general Bipin Rawat to commend Gogoi was timely and appropriate.

Let's bury the incident and respect the Army for its role, rather than just seeking an opportunity to find fault and criticise it.

Also read - Prime Minister's Office wants Indian Army to pick up garbage: Where's your outrage now?

Writer

Harsha Kakar Harsha Kakar @kakar_harsha

The author is a retired Major General.

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