Conflict

Honour Major Gogoi with Distinguished Services Medal for using a ‘human shield’: Capt Amarinder Singh

Srinagar: Supporting Major Nitin Gogoi’s action in Kashmir where he used a human being as a shield, veteran Congressman and Chief Minister of Punjab has sought a “distinguished services medal” for the Army officer.

In an opinion piece for The Indian Express on Saturday, Captain Amarinder Singh, has insisted that it is “dangerous environment in Kashmir” which warrant tough reactions.

“Tough situations warrant tough reactions, and dangerous situations often, if not always, merit daring actions,” Singh, who made a comeback in the state assembly elections this year after completing five years in opposition.

“When Major Nitin Gogoi decided (and, mind you, it could not have been anything other than a split-second decision) to use a civilian as a ‘human shield’ to protect his men from a stone-pelting mob, he was simply reacting to a tough situation in a dangerous environment.”

In April, after eight civilians were killed by forces on day Srinagar Lok Sabha polls were held, Major Gogoi led Indian army men, some cops of J&K Police and a few para-military CRPF troopers caught hold of one Farooq Ahmad and tied him to their jeep parading him through over twelve villages in Budgam district.

The action invited sharp reaction from people across the ideological divide with former Army General H S Panag tweeting: “When the State starts looking like a mirror image of the terrorists, it spells ominous portents!”

The tweet generated a debate with journalist Rahul Singh re-tweeting: “This image will cost us tax payers multiple crore in Army’s image management cost.”

Security analyst Nitin Gokhle, who worked as an editor with NDTV, was replied by General Panag who led northern command of Indian army in another tweet: “U have covered J&K enough to the ans. I have yet to see a mob stand after a few placed shots on the knees. This image is classic Vietnam.”

In the opinion piece, Amarinder Singh – former captain rank officer of Indian army – notes: “That our Jawans are exposed to these kind of dangers every day, not only at the precarious borders, but also within the so-called protected confines of the country, is something we all know. Unfortunately, however, most of us fail to appreciate the gravity of such a situation, or deliberately choose to ignore the perils associated with it, for the army personnel, of course, but, and perhaps even more importantly, for the nation at large. And when someone does try to understand the complexities of such a situation and chooses to follow a path less treaded, he or she is accused of being insensitive to the concerns of the ordinary people of the land, in gross violation of their human rights. Or condemned for taking a stand contrary to that of the majority.”

Expressing unequivocal support to Major Gogoi – who is undergoing investigation by an army held commission of inquiry (CoI) – Singh adds, “Contrarian or not, my opinion on the Major Gogoi episode is clearly and unequivocally in favour of the officer, who only did what was absolutely correct, and possibly the only sane and logical course of action available to him, in the circumstances.”

“Unfortunately, there were not many willing to pat his back for his remarkable presence of mind and timely action that probably saved the lives of many of his men, for whom he was responsible as their officer in charge.”

 

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