A Bharatiya Janata Party leader from Chhattisgarh on Tuesday filed a petition before the State Human Rights Commission, asking it to “review” its direction to the State government to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation to the Kashmiri man used as a human shield by the Army on the day of the Lok Sabha bypoll in Budgam in April earlier.
The J&K government’s rights watchdog had earlier this month said that “protection of life and liberty of a citizen is the basic responsibility of the state government”, and directed the PDP-BJP coalition government to pay Rs 10 lakh as compensation to Farooq Ahmad Dar — the civilian who was tied to the bonnet of an Army jeep and paraded through villages to thwart stone pelting. The SHRC, however, didn’t rule on the role and culpability of the Army officer, citing “limited applicability of the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 to the state of Jammu and Kashmir”.
“The report of the police accepts that Farooq Ahmad Dar… was tied to the bonnet of a vehicle and used as human shield,” SHRC chairperson Justice (retd) Bilal Nazki had said in his order. “The protection of life and liberty of the people is the basic responsibility of the state government. I have no doubt in my mind that Farooq Ahmad Dar was subjected to torture and humiliation, besides being wrongly confined. The Commission thinks it appropriate to direct the state government to pay compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the victim”.
State secretary of BJP’s Kisan Morcha, Gori Shankar Shrivas told The Indian Express that he was heading a delegation who met the Secretary of SHRC in Srinagar today, and filed a petition seeking review of the SHRC order. “There is a lot of anger against it among youth throughout the country. How can SHRC order the government to give compensation to this man (who was made a human shield)? Such a step would demoralize the army. We registered our opposition to this move and sought that the SHRC review its order,’’ Shrivas said.
He said two more BJP leaders from Chhattisgarh, Dinesh Tripathy and Ajay Singh Rathore, were accompanying him. “Major sahib (Major Leetul Nitin Gogoi ) who tied this man Farooq to his vehicle did so without caring for his life. We have nothing against Farooq Dar but we say Major sahib wasn’t wrong. Both the army and the central government have said that Major sahib didn’t do anything wrong”.
He said that soon after the SHRC decision became public, they have announced to pay one lakh rupees reward to Major Gogoi. “I had spoken to Colonel Vasudev of Army in Raipur and even called Major sahib’s 53 Rashtriya Rifles. I was told army wouldn’t take the money but I should give this money to the army’s welfare fund. Baba Ramdev too has done the same. I will do that in Delhi”.
Shrivas said that he is trying to meet Maj Gogoi at his camp in Budgam. “After submitting the petition, I have come to Gulmarg for a day. We will try to meet Major sahib tomorrow,” he said.
SHRC chairman Justice (retired) Bilal Nazki confirmed to The Indian Express that the Commission has received the application today.
When the video of the human shield incident surfaced in April, the Army defended Major Gogoi. Though the Army later ordered a probe into the incident, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat appreciated Gogoi’s act. In May, the officer was awarded a commendation card for counter-insurgency operations.
BJP’s chief spokesman in J&K Sunil Sethi said that the party’s position is clear and has asked the state government “not to implement this (SHRC) direction as it was only recommendatory in nature and not binding”. “Our view is that every stone pelter when apprehended in such situations should be taken in an open vehicle so that they also get a taste of stones pelted by others,’’ he said. He said that the Commission “was not apprised of true facts of the matter” because “the person tied by Major Gogoi was not innocent but a stone pelter”.
“By awarding compensation, what does the Commission want Major Gogoi to do when faced with a stone pelting mob? Open fire or get killed,’’ BJP spokesman Sunil Sethi said.