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11 Jul 2017

Rs 10 lakh damages for 'human shield'

TT, PTI, July 10: The Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission today condemned the forces' use of a human shield against stone-throwers in April, saying such action "cannot be accepted by a civilised society".
It directed the state government to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh within six weeks to Farooq Ahmad Dar, 26, who was strapped to an army jeep during the April 9 parliamentary by-election in Srinagar and paraded across villages.
The panel indicated it was "handicapped" by laws in commenting directly on the army role.
So, "the commission clarifies that any observation made in this order should not be taken as an expression of any opinion regarding the alleged involvement of officers of the Indian Army", the commission chairperson, Justice Bilal Nazki, said. "This commission chose not to issue any notice to the government or the armed forces, but the fact remains that the protection of life and liberty of the people is basic responsibility of the state regime," the judgment said, explaining why it had asked the state to compensate Dar.
The recommendation is not binding on the state government. The Centre today opposed any compensation for Dar, saying there should be no sympathy for stone-throwers.
Dar, an embroidery artisan, denies being a stone-thrower, although the army says he was the ringleader.
"Farooq Ahmad was subjected to torture and humiliation besides (being) wrongly confined. It is medically also established that Farooq did not suffer only humiliation publicly but also suffered trauma that resulted in psychiatric stress which may remain with him for the rest of his life," the panel said.
"For the humiliation, physical (and) psychological torture, stress, wrongful restraint and confinement, the commission thinks it appropriate to direct the state government to pay compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the victim.
"The report of the police accepts that he was tied to (the) bonnet of (a) vehicle and used as (a) human shield. But the police maintain that this was done by the army
"There cannot be any debate as to whether the treatment given to Farooq was violation of human rights or not. There are laws in the country and international laws, which prohibit such treatment even (of) a convict. Such treatment (of a) human being cannot be accepted by a civilised society.
"How can one approve (of) making an innocent person a human shield and parading him in chains tied to a jeep for hours?"
The act, ordered by Major Leetul Gogoi of the 53 Rashtryia Rifles, had triggered outrage in the Valley, elsewhere in India, and abroad. But army chief Bipin Rawat had praised Gogoi's "innovative" move and honoured him with a commendation card for "his sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations".
Mohammad Ahsan Untoo, head of the International Forum for Justice and Human Rights and the petitioner before the commission, was dissatisfied with the judgment. He said Gogoi should have been punished.
"I shall approach the high court seeking punishment for the accused army officer," he said.
In New Delhi, Union minister Venkaiah Naidu said: "There is no question of giving compensation to people who throw stones. I have no sympathy for such people."
He said Gogoi's action had saved the lives of Election Commission officials and police personnel.
The Congress played it safe, spokesperson Manish Tewari saying the matter was between the rights panel and the person who had approached it. "Without perusing, I do not comment on court judgments," he added.
Justice Nazki had served in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court and retired as chief justice of Orissa High Court in November 2009.
He was chairperson of the Bihar Human Rights Commission for a while. Last year, the Mehbooba Mufti government appointed him to his current post.

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