It is very difficult to give any sort of opinion on the Indian army nowadays. If your outlook is not appreciated, then you are marked as a keyboard-warrior and unpatriotic—someone who does not value the contribution and sacrifice of our defence personnel. So, I'd like to state right at the beginning that I respect the Indian army and take pride in them. But some recent revelations have forced me question certain measures which the army has taken in Kashmir.
Kashmir has to be one of the most daunting places to be for the Indian army. Violence emanating from social and political unrest has torn the state apart for years and the situation is not looking to take a turn for the better in the near future. In light of the stand-off which is happening between protesters and the army in Kashmir during the by-elections, some army personnel recently tied up Farooq Ahmad Dar in front of their jeep as used him as a human shield to prevent the protesters pelting stones at them.
If this particular action is not condemned then it gives out a message that using a human as a shield is not morally and ethically wrong.
This, according to me, is something which runs contrary to the morals which the army stands for. Mr. Dar apparently is not a supporter of the separatists and also voted in the elections. This makes him on India's side—the same side which the army represents. In theory, he was one of the guys who the army should be protecting from the separatists.
Instead, he was used by the army as a shield, and his life was endangered.
Now according to reports, the police have filed an FIR against the army for their actions. There can be two results from this. One is that the soldiers in question are found guilty of jeopardising a civilian's life. The other result is that the army is let off the hook and their action is deemed as justified. But there is a problem if the latter happens—if this particular action is not condemned then it gives out a message that using a human as a shield is not morally and ethically wrong. It will give the army a justification to do the same thing again if circumstances call for it.
I've discussed this matter with several people—some are of the opinion that all it means is that soldiers are only human and that they have been pushed to the wall in Kashmir recently and had no other option. However, this isn't the first time that the army is facing such retaliation from separatist forces in Kashmir. It has been going on for a long time.
They have defence mechanisms which they have deployed before to protect themselves from attacks. Then why are they resorting to methods that deliberately endanger innocent civilians? The use of human shields, ultimately, is cowardly and it belies the dignity of the Indian army.
In Kashmir, many innocent people are struggling to live amid the ceaseless unrest and violence. The army is there to protect them and not add their misery. It will be a sad precedent if the people's protectors themselves endanger the lives they are meant to preserve.