The Jammu and Kashmir police have confirmed that shawl maker Farooq Ahmad Dar had cast his vote before he was used as human shield by the Army in violence during the bye-election to the Srinagar parliamentary seat in April. “During investigation, it came to surface that the victim Farooq Ahmad Dar cast his vote at polling booth in his native village, Chill,” said the report submitted by the Budgam district police to the state’s director general of police in August.
The report added that Dar was picked up by the Army “during stone pelting, and was tied to the bonnet of a vehicle as human shield under threat”. “He was kept under wrongful confinement and was paraded/moved around in the area,” the report added.
The incident took place during the bye-election on April 9. A video went viral on social media showing Dar tied to an Army jeep with a note pinned to his chest that read, “This will be the fate of stone-pelters.”
Union minister Arun Jaitley, while referring to the human shield case, had said that Army officers should be free to take decisions in a war-like zone. Army chief Bipin Rawat, too, had defended Major Leetul Gogoi, the officer who had decided to tie Dar to a jeep.
Though the Army did not issue a statement to explain the circumstances under which Dar had been detained, the general impression created was that Gogoi decided to do this because he was on a mission to rescue security personnel trapped in a polling booth by a mob. Dar, however, claimed that he was not part of a mob and had actually been detained while on his way to a condolence meet.
In May, Gogoi was given a commendation card by the Army for his efforts in counter-insurgency operations and initiative to prevent bloodshed in the Valley.
Only 7.1% of registered voters in Srinagar had turned up at the booths to vote during the bye-poll. In Budgam district, Dar was among only 31,476 people who voted, braving a separatist boycott call and the threat of violence.