By Mukesh Kaushik//


Some of the acts committed under highly extraordinary circumstances and extremely difficult situations cannot be judged on the dotted lines written in the statute books and demand an unusual rather out-of-box justice. The case of Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi, the officer who tied a Kashmiri youth to the bonnet of a car to make a human shield against the violent stone pelting mob and saved the lives of security forces and the poll officials without firing a bullet, certainly fits into this rare category where justice should be done in manner in which all concerned are  feeling satisfied. 

       The day photographs the Kashmiri youth tied in front of an army car flashed prominently in newspapers, the Northern Command came out with a one liner statement, saying that an inquiry has been instituted to probe the incident. Exactly a month after being on back foot, the officer jump on to front foot after he was awarded the commendation card by none other then the Chief of the 1.2 million strong army. Defending his move, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat declared that Major Gogoi has not committed any major offence and he will not be punished even if he is found guilty the the Court of Inquiry. The same day, IGP Sopore, where an FIR has been lodged against the officer for using an innocent civilian as a human shield, asserted that despite the officer being rewarded by the army chief, the FIR against him will not be withdrawn. 

     The moves on part of the military as well as administrative leaders raise serious questions of propriety and fare answers would set the precedents for the future. 

      The day army ordered an inquiry into the incident, it was evident that prima facie a wrongful act has been committed which demands a probe. But, even before the enquiry was to be finalised, the announcement of the reward for Major Gogoi left no one in doubts that the outcome of the CoI will have no bearing on the officer in the eye of storm. 

    The war zone like area where army is to take decisions, according to Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, has witnessed several insurances in the in which terrorists freely used civilians as human shields to escape from the security forces' clutches or to fight against them. But the same tactics was never adopted by our forces, even if they may be free to exercise this option also, though this is highly debatable whether they have the right to do so. And the reason being that we never treat any free Individual as a shield since as an independent citizen he or she is having full rights to dignity. No one can infringe this right available to every Indian. That is why, our forces never ever hide behind any human shields, the relatives they even may be of the terrorists. Never our soldiers put a gun on the head of sin or daughter or wife of a terrorist to force him to surrender. Though it may be an innovative way to smoke out a rat out of its hole, without using any force. Simply put, the dirty discretion available for non state actor are not meant for a civil force, for which the Indian army is known for worldwide. 


Secondly, even if the innovative idea which Major Gogoi applied to tie the hands of stone pesters, who was sure of the success of the tool. What if the stone pelting mob may not have cared for the shield and stoned him to death. A citizen would have been sacrificed in that case and the responsibility of his death would be of the officer who tied him to jeep. 

    Hence, the award bestowed on Major Gogoi may be of intense public scrutiny, but a Leetul indictment of the act which he committed in good faith also deserves a consideration. 

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