The army has until May 15 to finish a probe on the alleged use of human shield to thwart stone pelters in Budgam district of Kashmir on 9 April, but if source-based reports in several media organisations are to be believed, many armed forces officials have praised the Major who took the decision to to truss up a local to the bonnet of a jeep and parade him around town.
The Court of Inquiry, chaired by a Colonel-level officer, will look into the details of what happened at Beerwa in Budgam district on 9 April. It's a fact-finding process and not an indictment, an officer told the Times of India.
The TOI cited an unnamed army source as saying that the top brass felt that the young Major of the 53 Rashtriya Rifle who decided to strap local weaver Farooq Ahmad Dar, who was on his way to his sister's house after casting his vote in the bypoll, to the front of a jeep as a human shield to prevent stone-pelters from targetting the vehicle, "showed quick-thinking, presence of mind and initiative to prevent bloodshed in a situation that could have easily spiralled out of control."
The Jammu and Kashmir police had filed an FIR under sections 342/149/506 and 367 of the Ranbir Penal Code against the 53 RR unit. The charges included wrongful confinement, unlawful assembly and criminal intimidation among others. The video sparked widespread condemnation and the army was criticised for human rights norms violation.
This is what senior journalist Rahul Kanwal tweeted.
After initial probe, Army HQ has decided to back young Major who used a Kashmiri as a human shield. 'Self defence is not rights violation.'
— Rahul Kanwal (@rahulkanwal) April 20, 2017
Sources also told NDTV that Dar was not harmed.
Several retired army personnel had taken to Twitter to condemn the incident. Lt Gen HS Panag, a retired soldier who has served in Kashmir, said the video will "haunt" the army forever.
However, Bharatiya Janata Party's General Secretary, Ram Madhav, said "everything is fair in love and war" and complimented the army officer who reportedly minimised casualty by his "action".
"I will compliment him for the decision that he took. He saved the lives of the people in police station, officials and all, and also his own boys. He also did not allow any civilian casualty," The Hindu quoted him as saying.
Army Cannot Be Subjected To FIR
PTI reports: Yesterday the Army told the Supreme Court court that it cannot be subjected to FIRs for carrying out anti-militancy operations in insurgency-prone areas like Jammur and Kashmir and Manipur, while alleging local bias in the judicial inquiries conducted against it in these regions, which have tarnished its image.
"Judicial inquiries which are biased due to local considerations have tarnished the image of Army. Military operations cannot be dissected in a particular way. Army cannot be subjected to FIR otherwise military operations cannot be carried out," Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi told a bench of Justices M B Lokur and U U Lalit.
Rohatgi, appearing for the Army and the Assam Rifles, said it cannot be subjected to investigation by the state police with regard to its operations against militants in strife-torn areas.
"Whether it's Jammu and Kashmir or Manipur, we are facing the same local bias. Why doesn't any judicial inquiry ever exonerate the Army? These inquiries (have) never said that Army did the correct thing. Army is facing problems due to bias in such inquiries."
"Whether it's Jammu and Kashmir or Manipur, we are facing the same local bias. Why doesn't any judicial inquiry ever exonerate the Army? These inquiries (have) never said that Army did the correct thing. Army is facing problems due to bias in such inquiries," he said.
Pointing out that Army was working in very difficult situations in these areas, Rohatgi said it has its own system in place, has its own approach and is governed by different set of rules.
"In every military operation, Army cannot be disbelieved. Every judicial inquiry cannot be against the Army. The alleged extra-judicial killing cases in Manipur are not cases of massacre, rather these are cases of military operations," he said.
He said the petitions under Article 32 of Associations of Widows from Manipur, seeking FIR into alleged extra- judicial killings and SIT probe, should not be considered and the court should not embark into it.
During the hearing, the bench also questioned the Army over its Court of Inquiry, a fact finding proceeding.
"Court of Inquiry is for the benefit of the Army. It is not for the satisfaction of public which has the right to know the truth behind any incident."
"Court of Inquiry is for the benefit of the Army. It is not for the satisfaction of public which has the right to know the truth behind any incident," the bench said after Rohatgi alleged bias in the judicial probes conducted by district judges.
The bench also pulled up the Manipur government for not taking action on such alleged fake encounters by armed forces and asked was it "not supposed to do anything".