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HRW criticises Army rewarding officer who used civilian as ‘human shield’

Thursday, Jun 1, 2017,14:01 IST By anju A A A

New York | A human rights organisation has criticised the Indian Army for awarding a commendation to one of its officers who used a civilian as a human shield in Kashmir, saying support for such “lawless action” will lead to future lawlessness by security forces and protesters.

“The Indian Army’s rewarding of an officer for actions that included serious human rights violations undermines accountability and the stature of the military,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a statement yesterday.

It was referring to Maj Nitin Leetul Gogoi being commended for evacuating security personnel and election staff who were threatened by a mob in Jammu and Kashmir, in which he used a bystander unlawfully as a “human shield.”

The Indian Army has defended Gogoi’s action.

In a recent interview to PTI, Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat, defending the episode, said the Army was facing a “dirty war” in Kashmir which has to be fought through “innovative” ways.

HRW’s South Asia director Meenakshi Ganguly, however, said, “Soldiers have a difficult task in Kashmir and should be rewarded for saving lives, but not by deliberately placing others at risk and violating their rights.”

“Support by senior army and government officials for a lawless action merely fans the flames of future lawlessness by security forces and protesters,” Ganguly said.

“Public praise by senior officials for an act of outrageous cruelty should put to rest any belief that the government is serious about holding security force personnel to account for serious abuses.”