An army major, who was in the eye of a storm for allegedly tying a Kashmiri man to a jeep to use him as a human shield, has been awarded the army chief’s commendation card. Confirming the development, army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand said the officer had been awarded the Chief of Army Staff’s Commendation (COAS) card for “sustained efforts in CI (counter insurgency) operations”. Sustained efforts imply that the officer has been recognised for work done by him over a period of time.
While awarding the officer, Col Anand said, “all factors including notable performance of the officer and overall emerging indicators of the court of inquiry have been well-considered”, according to army sources. The government also backed the army, with the country’s top law officer saying in April that the officer-in-charge “did a smart thing and defused a nasty situation”.
The army found itself in the middle of a firestorm after the surfacing of a video clip that purportedly showed a man tied to the fender of a Rakshak jeep and paraded through villages. A day after the video clip surfaced on April 14, the army ordered a probe into the incident.
In the video, announcements of people being warned that “this will be the fate of stone-pelters” could be heard in the background. The incident had triggered outrage in Kashmir, with separatists saying it was on “expected lines from an oppressor”.
The force and the government had defended the action ordered by Major Leetul Gogoi from Assam. Army officials had earlier said the troops were forced to take the extreme step to save themselves from stone-pelting, which has become one of the most common and frequent forms of protest in Kashmir since the killing of Burhan Wani.