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Maj Gogoi “attached” to formation HQ for Summary of Evidence

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Srinagar, Sep 18: The Army has shifted Major Leetul Gogoi, who was at the centre of the ‘human shield’ controversy, out of his unit and attached to local formation headquarters after being indicted by an Army Court of Inquiry (CoI) for “fraternising” with a local woman in Srinagar, officials said Tuesday.

Last month, the CoI instituted by the Army indicted Gogoi, an officer with 53 Rashtriya Rifles — a specialized anti-militancy force for Jammu and Kashmir, on two counts — “fraternising” with a local in spite of instructions to the contrary and “being away from the place of duty while in operational area”.  It recommended Summary of Evidence against him, a step before court martial proceedings are initiated.

The officials said Gogoi was shifted out of his unit in Budgam and “attached” to Awantipora-based Victor Force headquarters.

The officer, whose decision to tie a civilian to the bonnet of his vehicle in Kashmir on April 09 last year as a shield against stone-pelting by a mob had kicked up a huge controversy, will now face Summary of Evidence, a process similar to framing of charges. The process is likely to take three months.

At that time Army Chief General Bipin Rawat had supported the young officer’s action (of tying a man with vehicle and using him as human shield) and honoured him with the Army chief’s ‘Commendation Card’ for his “sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations”.

Based on the Summary of Evidence to be compiled by “competent authorities”, the Army is likely to decide further action in the case which may include General Court Martial (GCM) or Summary General Court Martial (SGCM). The GCM is like a full court whereas the proceedings in SGCM are conducted in a much shorter time span and cases are disposed of quickly.

Gogoi, who was commissioned as a lieutenant in December 2008, was detained by Jammu and Kashmir police on May 23 following an altercation at a hotel in Srinagar where he was allegedly trying to enter with an 18-year-old woman.

This time around, after the name of the major was embroiled in a controversy involving a girl, Gen.Rawat said exemplary punishment would be given to Gogoi if he was found guilty of “any offence”.

“If any officer of the Indian Army is found guilty of any offence, we will take strictest possible action,” he had said.

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