Jammu and Kashmir: Police files FIR against Army over video of man used as 'shield'

Devyani Sultania
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The Jammu and Kashmir Police have filed a First Information Report (FIR) against the Indian Army for tying a civilian in front of a jeep as a human shield in a village in the Budgam district of Kashmir. The man was tied to the jeep and paraded as a sign of warning that stone pelters would face the same consequences. The central government has decided to support the Indian Army officer, it was reported.

The police said that the FIR was registered against the Indian Army's 53 Rashtriya Rifles unit on charges of kidnapping and risking a civilian's life at the Beerwah Police Station in Budgam district on April 13. The video that went viral on social media is believed to have been shot in the area on April 9 during the Srinagar by-polls. Local news agency KNS reported that investigation was being carried out by the Sub-Divisional Police Officer Magam Syed Fayaz.

The civilian, who was tied to the army vehicle, was identified as 26-year-old Farooq Ahmad Dar, who had reportedly queued up outside a polling booth in Chill Bras area in Arizal, thereby going against a boycott call by separatists that led to the lowest voter turnout in nearly 30 years. According to Dar, the army jawans pulled him from his motorcycle, tied him in front of the jeep and drove around from village to village for several hours.

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"The armed force personnel were beating some women at Utli Gam. They caught hold of me and tied me to the jeep before dragging me to the camp at Arizal where I was severely beaten up before I was handed over to the family members. I received injuries to my arm as well as face... I was travelling on a bike to attend the mourning of my brother-in-law's sister when the incident happened," Dar said.

The video triggered a war of words on social media. It sparked backlash against the Indian Army and also evoked angry responses from various quarters. Several people also supported the Army for doing so, saying that the move saved many lives.

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The Indian Army ordered an inquiry into the incident following the backlash. Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also tweeted the video on Friday:

Here's the video as well. A warning can be heard saying stone pelters will meet this fate. This requires an urgent inquiry & follow up NOW!! pic.twitter.com/qj1rnCVazn

— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) April 14, 2017

Centre decides to support the Indian Army

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The central government has decided to support the Indian Army officer who took the decision to tie up Dar, an alleged stone pelter, to the jeep and use him as a "human shield" to steer his unit and the state officials and paramilitary jawans on election duty to safety, the Times of India reported. Defence minister Arun Jaitley is likely to address the issue when he meets Army commanders on Monday.

The Centre has acknowledged an internal Army probe into the incident, which came to the conclusion that the commanding officer took the decision as a last resort after he realised that his unit had to pass through streets crowded with stone-pelters who had also taken positions on surrounding rooftops, the daily reported. 

The FIR against the Army comes amid increasing clashes between civilians and security forces in the Kashmir Valley. At least eight people were killed in clashes on the day of polling on April 9 while a youth was shot dead in Batmaloo in Srinagar on Saturday when security forces were trying to disperse stone-pelting protesters.

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