Army using AFSPA bluntly, say Gujarat activists; Condemn ‘human shield’ incident


Two human rights groups including People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD) including other activists, academicians and journalists from Ahmadabad have sent a memorandum to President of India Pranab Mukherjee condemning the action of Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir as a major named Leetul Gogoi tied one Kashmiri as a human shield, Times of India reported.

“We, the concerned citizens of India, are shocked by the action of Major Gogoi of tying a Kashmiri artisan to the army jeep and parading in villages in Jammu- Kashmir as a human shield for warning the stone pelters and statement by the Army Chief General Bipin Rawat defending and justifying his action and awarding a special award for what he calls ” an innovative measure”. On pretext of failure of the Govt of J&K, the Army is using ASPFA blatantly which would not justify both the actions which are illegal, unconstitutional, and inhuman,” stated the statement issued by PUCL and MSD.

“The action is violative of article 21 of our Constitution which guarantees to every person in India right to live and even to die with human dignity and also of Geneva Conventions laying down rules of military conduct during inter- nation wars and intra-nation conflicts on the humanitarian grounds of decency and humanity. Simply by calling ‘a dirty proxy war’ the army chief cannot justify the action. The army in India is not above the Constitution. On the contrary, under our Constitution the supreme command of the defense forces is rested in the president of India that is, a civilian authority,” added the statement.

In a democratic Constitution, the army is expected to be non partisan and cannot indulge in politics, whether nationalistic or linguistic or ideological. The politicalisation of Indian Army will be very dangerous for our country, it said.

“Neither Gogoi nor the Army Chief should have addressed the press conference. They must remember that the army is meant for defending the country and protecting the people, and not for frightening the people. The attitude of the army chief is a serious threat to our Constitution. Under this circumstance an atmosphere be created for dialogue with the aggrieved people of the valley without delay. Which will be a prelude to confidence building measures,” said the statement.

Major Gogoi, who has been in the eye of a storm after he controversially decided to truss up a civilian named Farooq Ahmad Dar on his jeep’s bonnet as a “human shield” to rescue over a dozen security and election personnel from a stone-pelting mob in Jammu & Kashmir in April, was also awarded by the army chief.

After J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, National Conference leader Omar Abdullah and others demanded action against the army men involved in the incident, J&K Police had lodged an FIR in the case on April 13. Military personnel, however, cannot be prosecuted without the Union government’s sanction due to the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act being in force in the strife-torn state.

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