03:12 GMT +319 October 2019
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    Indian Army Major Leetul Gogoi

    India Rewards Army Major Behind Kashmir Human Shield, Stirs Nationwide Debate

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    The Indian Army Major, who had tied a man to a jeep in Kashmir purportedly as a shield against stone-pelters, has been awarded by the Army for his “sustained efforts” in counter-insurgency operations.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — Army chief General Bipin Rawat's ‘Commendation Card' for Major Leetul Gogoi has stirred debate in India where some support Gogoi while many others termed this step against the ethos, rules and regulations of the Indian Army.

    The reward was announced on Monday evening while the court of inquiry is under way. The army chief's ‘Commendation Card' is given for distinguished services and devotion to duties. The incident was recorded in a video showing the man, Farooq Ahmad Dar, tied to an army jeep during polling in the Srinagar by-elections on April 9.

    Many argued that step taken by Major Gogoi was in violation of the Geneva Convention of which India is a party. Article 3 of the Convention prohibits the targeting of civilians in conflicts that are "not of an international character". "The following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture; (b) the taking of hostages; (c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment."

    "Even before the probe in the case is complete, such an act by the government will further aggravate the Kashmir situation," senior parliamentarian Sharad Yadav said. However, most political parties including the main opposition, the Congress, have welcomed the move by the Indian Army chief.

    "Actions on the battlefield cannot be restricted to simple binaries of right and wrong. There is a larger picture in an exceedingly large frame. If you want good frontline leadership, then your frontline leaders expect your support. If that support is not forthcoming, they will, over time, cease to act and the consequences, thereof, will be horrendous. In the instant case, the chief has done well to convey his appreciation to the officer," Major General (Retired) Dhruv Katoch told Sputnik.

    Meanwhile, Rising Kashmir reported the FIR will not be quashed even if the Major has been awarded. "Whatever will be the outcome of the investigation is a separate question, but FIR will not be quashed even if Major Gogoi has been awarded," Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) Muneer Khan told journalists in Sopore.

    Kashmir has been on the boil since the killing of Burhan Wani, a popular, social media-friendly terrorist, in July 2016. Popular protests on the streets of Kashmir have been met with pellet gun-wielding Indian troops; the pellets have destroyed peoples' eyes and their lives.

    India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir, the unfinished part of the under-duress Partition of British India in 1947.

     

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