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Major Gogoi indicted by Army CoI

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"Justice finally done", says 'human shield' Dar

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New Delhi/Srinagar: Maj Leetul Gogoi, who was at centre of the human shield controversy, has been indicted by an Army court for “fraternising” with a woman, paving way for initiation of disciplinary action against him, Army officials said today.

The report of the court of inquiry (CoI), headed by an officer of the rank of Brigadier, had been submitted earlier this month in which Major Gogoi has been charged with “fraternising” with a local in spite of instructions to the contrary and “being away from the place of duty while in operational area”, they said.

Police had detained Gogoi on May 23 following an altercation when he was allegedly trying to enter a Srinagar hotel with an 18-year-old woman. He was briefly detained by the police and later handed over to Army authorities.

Maj Gogoi, who had used Farooq Ahmed Dar, an artisan, as a human shield during Parliamentary by-elections in April 2017 by tying him to the bonnet of his vehicle, will now face summary of evidence before court martial proceedings are initiated against him, the officials said.

The punishment, according to the officials, can range from a severe reprimand to dismissal from service after summary of evidence that would emerge during the proceedings.

The Army had ordered the CoI following the May 23 incident. Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat had said in Pahalgam that exemplary punishment would be given to Gogoi if he was found guilty of “any offence”.

The Army chief had said in May, barely two days after Maj Gogoi had been caught with the woman, that “if any officer of the Indian Army is found guilty of any offence, we will take strictest possible action”.

He also added, “If Major Gogoi has done something wrong, I assure you that he will be awarded punishment at the earliest… The punishment will set an example.”

Major Gogoi had hit the headlines last year after he tied a man to a jeep in Kashmir purportedly as a shield against stone pelters during polling in the Srinagar Lok Sabha by-election on April 9.

He had been backed by the Army. According to the Army, he had tied Farooq Ahmed Dar to his jeep to ensure that crowds do not throw stones at polling staff he was escorting to safety.

Rawat had then supported the young officer’s action and honoured him with the Army chief’s ‘Commendation Card’ for his ‘sustained efforts’ in counter-insurgency operations.

However, the May 23 incident was reversal of his fortunes and he found himself in dock after he was detained by the police along with another Territorial Army personnel, who happens to be a local.

Meanwhile, Farooq Ahmed Dar, an artisan used as a ‘human shield’ by Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi remarked today that “justice has finally been done,” after hearing the officer was indicted by an Army Court of Inquiry for allegedly “fraternising” with a local woman in May this year.

“I am thankful to the Almighty. The person who ruined my life has to face the wrath of God finally. God has his ways to do justice,” Dar told PTI over phone from his home.

The 28-year-old embroidery artisan, who is struggling to pick up the threads of his life after the traumatic incident, said the army should have treated his case also on compassionate grounds and listened to his version of the incident that sparked an outrage.

“I am not even sure whether I will be able to restart my life again but I am happy that God has given me justice at the end of the day. The person who is responsible for my destruction has also been eventually shamed,” said Dar, who has been shunned by neighbours after a video of him being tied as a ‘human shield’ by Gogoi came in public domain.

Suffering from depression as he was boycotted by villagers for allegedly being a government agent, Dar recalled his repeated pleas to Gogoi to release him but he refused to pay heed.

“The army major was arrogant with power and considered himself as my creator. However, little did he know that ‘Uski lathi mein awaaz nahi hai’ (lightning makes no sound until it strikes),” he said.

He said he continued to face a social boycott as people in his village Chill, in Budgam district, had distanced themselves after they learnt he had participated in the election process.

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