Army officers should be free to take decisions in a war-like zone, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley has said, PTI reported on Wednesday. His comments gain significance in the backdrop of the ongoing controversy about an incident where an Army officer tied a civilian to his jeep and used him as a human shield in Kashmir.
Major Leetul Gogoi was recently given a commendation card by the Army for his “sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations as well as his presence of mind and initiative to prevent bloodshed”.
“Well, military solutions are to be provided by military officers,” the Union minister said on Wednesday. “How a situation is to be dealt with when you are in a war-like zone...we should allow our army officers to take a decision. They don’t have to consult members of Parliament as to what they should do under such circumstances.”
The incident took place on April 9 during the bye-election for the Srinagar parliamentary seat. A video of the incident went viral on social media and attracted severe criticism for the violation of human rights. In the video, Farooq Ahmad Dar was seen tied to the vehicle with a note pinned to his chest that read “this would be the fate of stone-pelters”.
On April 13, the Jammu and Kashmir police filed an FIR at the Beerwa police station in Budgam district, where the video was believed to have been shot. The Army has set up a Court of Inquiry to look into the matter.
Jaitley’s statement came only days after the Army said they had carried out punitive artillery assaults to deal with “infiltration attempts supported by Pakistani firing” in the Kashmir’s Nowshera region on Tuesday. Pakistan has, however, denied the claim. The assault is believed to be in retaliation to alleged mutilation of bodies of two soldiers by the Pakistani Army on May 1.