The Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, conveniently, claimed he has not read the reports in the newspapers, the Army cannot take the same line but has opted not to comment ~ yet like the proverbial Banquo’s Ghost the disgrace that the uniform sustained when using a civilian as what has been dubbed a “human shield” will continue to haunt.
The controversy found public space again following a police report that calls into question the Army’s version of the infamous incident. After investigating the matter the police have concluded that Farooq Dar, whom the Army had projected as a stone-thrower trying to disrupt the by-election on April 9, had actually cast his vote ~ and therefore was highly unlikely to have opted for violent disruption of the poll process.
The state government has not commented on the report, nor has it confirmed having complied with an order of the state’s Human Rights Commission that Dar be paid a compensation of Rs 10 lakh ~ that official silence proving as shameful as the incident itself, a disgrace compounded by the Army Chief having formally commended Major Leetul Gogoi who had ordered his men to lash Dar to the bonnet of his jeep.
That Dar had been used as more than a “human shield” when the troops broke up a mob of stone-pelters is confirmed by reports of him having been driven around through several villages as an “example”. An example of the Indian Army at its worst.
The head of the Army’s “Victor Force” has recently gone on record to say that the “back of militancy has been broken” in South Kashmir and the time was opportune for giving a serious push towards opening negotiations.
Fair enough, but as long as the “human shield” controversy remains “alive”, public resentment against the Army will continue to simmer. In some ways India is fortunate that Pakistan’s permanent representative at the UN goofed up by displaying a Palestinian girl as having suffered from a pellet-gun attack in the Valley ~ had she aired the video of Dar being driven around on the Army jeep to which he had been lashed the embarrassment would have been hard to “live down”.
Maintaining the “morale” of the forces and the image of the Army Chief will come in way of the government openly taking to task those responsible for the outrage. Yet, as a mature and responsible person, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman must quietly let the Army know what took place was “simply not done”.
The nation has recently honoured, and mourned the passing of its last “five star General” ~ many military observers wonder how Arjan Singh reacted to the incident. Perhaps it was fortunate that neither “Kipper” nor “Sam” was alive when their sacred olive-green had been thus besmirched.