Burhan Wani's death and a year of living dangerously

"I did not throw stones. I was kept thirsty from 10.45 a.m. till 7.30 p.m."

“If it was his [the Army Chief’s] relative instead of me, will he still award the officer,” asked Farooq Ahmad Dar, who was tied to an Army vehicle as a ''human shield'' by Major Leetul Gogoi on April 9 during the Srinagar bypoll to prevent youth from hurling stones at security forces.

Mr Dar, responding to the award of a commendation certificate issued by Army Chief General Bipin Rawat to Major Gogoi, termed it “support to zulum (oppression).”

“I did not throw stones. I had voted that day. I was kept thirsty from 10.45 a.m. till 7.30 p.m. I was driven around 28 km in various villages. I was used as a shield,” Mr. Dar, a weaver and a resident of Budgam’s Chill village, told The Hindu

“The Army is not lying when it says no one pelted stones after I was tied [at the vehicle]. Is the Army here to provide security to us or to their jawans only,” asked Mr. Dar, who remained in his village since the incident.The 27-year-old said he still gets nightmares.

“I see a jeep travelling towards me whenever I fall asleep. My body starts shaking. My mother sleeps next to me, calming my pain and restlessness. This anxiety will end only when I will die,” he said adding “My mother too is depressed by the event”.

Terming April 9 his “new date of birth”, Mr Dar only pleads for “insaaf  (justice)” now to put a closure to his case.

“Whatever is the punishment in the rule book, please follow that. I recently deposed before the State Human Rights Commission. I was expecting some reprimand. Instead, he was awarded. Am I a bail  [ox] or a human being,” Mr Dar said. Regretting his decision to have voted on that day, he has pledged “not to vote again”.

“One can only imagine what the Army could do to those who don’t vote. My case is an eye-opener,” he said.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Munir Ahmad Khan said the investigation in the case “will carry on”. “The FIR against the Army Major has not been quashed,” he noted.

National Conference spokesman Junaid Mattu said, “The Major being honoured is a slap at the face of the mainstream [political parties] in Kashmir. I feel ashamed, disgusted and hopeless.”

Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani said the Army act “clearly vindicates our claim that this is State sponsored policy. We are looking for the International Court of Justice intervention like in the Kulbhushan Jadhav case. It was a severe crime against humanity.”

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Hurriyat faction chairman, said this award only underlined that “all enquiries are a farce”.

He said, “Fascist mindset is on a display in India while dealing with people of Kashmir. The Indian state has internalised the occupational mindset.”

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Printable version | Jun 11, 2021 2:39:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/human-shield-row-a-support-to-oppression-says-dar/article18555279.ece

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