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The 9 April Kashmir incident in which Farooq Dar was tied to an Army jeep. India needs total transparency on such matters.

My gut instinct is to reject outright the method used by the Indian Army on 9 April 2017 – see incident report here in New York Times; video hereHowever, before I pass any judgement I need to find out what happened. This is an initial examination of what might have transpired.

The thing that we should consider is that according to the NY Times, Farooq Dar is a STRONG SUPPORTER OF INDIA: “Mr. Dar said he had never supported the separatists, and had steadfastly voted in elections even when separatists called for a boycott.

ARGUMENTS IN FAVOUR OF WHAT THE ARMY DID

Central government’s position: The (union) government has decided to stand by the Army officer who took the decision to use an alleged stone-pelter as a “human shield” tied to a jeep to steer his unit and Jammu and Kashmir officials and paramilitary personnel on election duty to safety.

The government has taken note of an Army probe into the April 9 incident which concluded that the commanding officer took the decision reluctantly and as the last resort after he realised that his unit had to pass through streets crowded . [Source]

FURTHER

Retired Lt General Prakash Katoch wrote strongly on 16 April in favour of the tying. According to him:

He caught the alleged stone-pelter Dar, tied him on to the jeep and drove past the mob of 900, saving the ITBP and J&K Police personnel and his own boys.

Many others have supported this action. On one of the Whatsapp groups I’m member of, someone wrote:

Why did the Indian Army tie a stone pelter on their jeep?

April 14, 2017

Stone pelter tied on Jeep – The real story

An image of the Indian Army tying a stone pelter on their jeep has surfaced on social media. Although several people hailed the move, quite a few termed this action as barbaric. Omar Abdullah was the first to join the voice against the Indian Army for this action. Here is the truth about the incident which happened today. You be the judge and decide for yourself whether the Indian Army did the right or wrong thing.

The video is of 9th April. The location is Budgam in Kashmir. One of the police booth was targeted in Budgam on the election day on 9th April. The ITBP and Jammu and Kashmir personnel were guarding a polling booth. When the polling was almost over, a mob of about 900 stone pelters attacked the personnel guarding the booth. Eye witnesses said that they were not pelting just stones.

SHOCKING details surfaced

They in fact had huge boulders in their hand which they were throwing at the ITBP and J&K Police. They wanted to prevent the people from casting their votes, said a person who witnessed the incident. What is to be noted here is that there were only 9 security personnel to guard the polling booth. It was 9 versus 900. The ITBP Jawans realized that they would not be able to get out alive unless and until they do something.

Please recall at this moment that a stone pelter doesn’t fear the CRPF or police anymore. A recent video on social media showed Kashmir youth who were beating up CRPF Jawans carrying guns. Guns were useless at this moment too. “They threatened us that they would lynch us all to death. We were 9 people in total, they were in hundreds. We immediately called the Army station commander and sent out a SOS message. The Army Commander immediately helped us. He sent in a Quick Response Team (QRT) with one jeep and one bus,” said one of the men who was trapped in a room with a mob of 900 waiting outside to kill him.

Commander’s amazing presence of mind!

When the QRT arrived, they too realized that they were outnumbered. The QRT has about 17 members, but they too knew that it would be difficult to face a mob of 900. The Commander of the QRT decided that it would be a bad idea to open fire at the mob and could escalate tensions. The Commander immediately decided that rescuing the men inside is what was important.

He caught hold of one Kashmiri stone pelter, tied him on to the jeep and drove pas the mob of 900. Not only did they go in, they saved the 9 ITBP and J&K Police personnel, and managed to come out alive. Omar Abdullah and several other so called liberal people who are criticizing the army must understand what really transpired before commenting. Please share this story so that the truth comes out.

On another Whatsapp group, someone wrote:

कश्मीर मे पत्थरबाज को जीप के आगे बांधा गया मै इसके सख्त खिलाफ हुं

एक पत्थरबाज जीप के पीछे भी बांधना चाहिए पत्थर पीछे से भी आ सकता है

(Basically supporting the tying of another behind the jeep, as well)

 

ARGUMENTS AGAINST THE ACTION:

The Government of J&K has filed an FIR:

The Jammu and Kashmir police filed an FIR against the Indian Army for tying a man to a jeep as a human shield, the video of which sparked outrage in the Valley after it was shared few days ago.

Police said it registered the first information report (FIR) in the Beerwa police station in Budgam district, the area where the video was believed to have been shot on April 9 when bypolls were held for Srinagar’s parliamentary seat.

Confirming the same, deputy inspector general of police for central Kashmir, Ghulam Hassan Bhat told Hindustan Times that the FIR was registered on April 13. [Source]

Further, retired Lt. General wrote:

Farooq Ahmad Dar’s story here. Note that this story is not verified.

He said he refused to take the link road and went ahead on his bike. He saw army men chasing a group of protesters who were running towards him. “As the protesters fled away, the army men caught me at about 11pm. They almost broke my bones beating me with wooden sticks and kicking me with their jack boots. I was confused as to what was happening. They were about 15 army men, all beating me. The people there were watching as mute spectators. They dared not ask the army men to stop,” Farooq said.

He said that he was beaten so ruthlessly that blood squirted out of his nose and other body parts. “I lost all strength to defend myself. Then they took me to a stream bordering the road, and dipped me several times in the icy cold water. I felt pain in my whole body and shivered. I cried loudly but in vain,” Farooq told Reader.

Looking at his condition, Farooq said, women living in the area came out of their homes to protest. “I had lost my consciousness by then. I could only hear the countless bullets being fired and then the teargas shells. The soldiers tied me to the bonnet of their jeep while I was in an almost unconscious state. They kept hurling abuses at me. Then they strapped a white paper to my body on which was written, ‘He is a stone-pelter’,” Farooq said.

Further story of his trauma by Farooq Dar, here.

There is some evidence that Farooq was beaten (his hand appears to be injured):

Former Chief Minister of J&K, Omar Abdullah wrote:

MY TENTATIVE CONCLUSION

I can’t arrive at a firm view based on this information.

Prima facie there is no way the army is supposed to take recourse to such tactics. There is also prima facie evidence that Farooq Ahmad Dar was not some random stone pelter but an innocent passer by (and supporter of India) who was tortured and beaten up before being tied to the jeep.

The Government of India has, however, come out in support, even as the J&K Government has lodged an FIR.

All I can say at this stage is that such extreme violation of individual rights to freedom and justice could only be “justified” under some super-normal and extraordinary events. I don’t have any direct (video) evidence of the events. Just hearsay.

Kashmir has a huge trust deficit. Under such a situation, FULL VIDEO EVIDENCE OF THE ENTIRE series of incidents which led to this situation is essential.

Without such evidence, one can readily imagine someone in a remote village in Kashmir forming misguided opinions about the Indian army.

I believe there needs to be TOTAL TRANSPARENCY in all police/armed operations in Kashmir. Full video recording of all events should be made and widely published. Memory cards are cheap, video cameras are cheap. Give lots of them to the police and armed forces.

Let trust building be a key focus of the Indian government at this stage. And trust requires total transparency.

I hope to be able to say more about this incident after more information becomes public.

Sanjeev Sabhlok

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