Indian army chief defends use of human shield in Kashmir

Published: May 29, 2017
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Kashmiri youth tied in front of Indian army vehicle as human shield. VIDEOGRAB

Kashmiri youth tied in front of Indian army vehicle as human shield. VIDEOGRAB

In a brazen attempt to defend the act of an Indian soldier using a Kashmiri man as a human shield, the Indian Army chief claimed that his forces had to adopt ‘innovative’ ways in order to fight the ‘dirty war’ going on in the disputed Himalayan region.

Major Leetul Gogoi, of the 53 Rashtriya Rifles, was in the spotlight after a video, shot during the April 9 Srinagar Lok Sabha by-poll and posted on social media, showed a man tied on the bonnet of an army jeep in Badgam. The video went viral and drew anger and condemnation from human rights activists, Kashmiri groups and even by a few retired Indian army generals.

While, an investigation by the police, which lodged an FIR against the security forces in light of the incident, revealed that Gogoi had tied the man to the jeep’s bonnet as a human shield, the Indian military awarded him with Chief of Army Staff’s Commendation Card for “sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations”.

Indian army major who tied Kashmiri man to jeep awarded military honour

“This is a proxy war and proxy war is a dirty war. It is played in a dirty way. The rules of engagements are there when the adversary comes face-to-face and fights with you. It is a dirty war… That is where innovation comes in. You fight a dirty war with innovation,” General Bipin Rawat said in an exclusive interview with the Press Trust of India.

Gen Rawat went on to say that his prime objective of awarding Gogoi, against whom a Court of Inquiry has yet to finalise its report, was to boost the morale of young officers of the force who are operating in a very difficult environment in Indian-occupied Kashmir (IoK).

“People are throwing stones at us, people are throwing petrol bombs at us. If my men ask me what do we do, should I say, just wait and die? I will come with a nice coffin with a national flag and I will send your bodies home with honour. Is it what I am supposed to tell them as chief? I have to maintain the morale of my troops who are operating there,” the Indian Army chief said.

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Talking about the complexity of the Kashmiri insurgency, Gen Rawat suggested it would have been easier for the Indian forces if the protesters were firing weapons instead of throwing stones. “In fact, I wish these people, instead of throwing stones at us, were firing weapons at us. Then I would have been happy. Then I could do what I (want to do),” he said.

Justifying the atrocities of the occupation forces against the innocent Kashmiris, the head of Indian military said if people in any country lose fear of the army then it is doomed. “Adversaries must be afraid of you and at the same time your people must be afraid of you. We are a friendly army, but when we are called to restore law and order, people have to be afraid of us,” he said.

Farooq Dar, who was tied to the jeep, says he is not a militant or a stone thrower, and was only returning home after casting his vote in the by-election when he was hauled away. He says he still suffers from the physical and mental trauma of being paraded on the jeep’s bonnet with a sign slung around his neck, warning stone pelters of the consequences.

Video of Kashmiri youth tied to Indian forces army jeep goes viral

Responding to a question, Rawat said he does not anticipate a “limited war” with Pakistan. Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence from the British in 1947. Both claim the territory in full and have fought two wars over the mountainous region. An armed rebellion that started in the region in 1989 has left tens of thousands, mostly civilians, dead.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Bunny Rabbit
    May 29, 2017 - 12:13PM

    Its the intention which matters and this officer who was driving had the best intentions at heart. Recommend

  • Maj gaurav arya
    May 29, 2017 - 2:23PM

    Indians have this strange logic
    Whenever there is unrest in the valley they try to downplay it and blame pak
    Now they are admitting/defending use of human shield to save their Army from stone pelting
    Its not difficult to imagine the magnitude of ongoing freedom struggle
    It clealry depicts how unwanted Indian presence has become for kashmiris Recommend

  • Ameer Qaisrani
    May 29, 2017 - 2:34PM

    Signs of a weak and nonprofessional armyRecommend

  • Omer
    May 29, 2017 - 6:49PM

    The Indian General gave a good reason to freedom fighters to use Indian army officers as human shield.Recommend

  • Shah
    May 29, 2017 - 7:02PM

    @Omer:
    Absolutely, the precedent is now set; And it is time to pick Hindus—tani soldiers and use them as human shields; Per this hindus—tani army chief it is good to use human shields; So, use them hindus soldiers as human shields and let them be killed by bullets fired by their own; Recommend

  • jun
    May 29, 2017 - 7:56PM

    so you mean hitler and others like in bosnian war and other in history were right?and there exist no international court of justice?then why did your country go to international court just for the justice for a spy bringing in some vienna treaty?mere hypocricyRecommend

  • Irfan sheikh
    May 29, 2017 - 8:14PM

    @Bunny Rabbit: A coward Indian hiding behind a fake name. You have been commenting on tribune here for like ever. At least come up with your real name if u have guts..or you are too scared some Kashmiri will find it real name and ….Recommend

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