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Major who took human shield axed

The army has removed Major Leetul Gogoi from his unit and attached him to the headquarters of his counter-insurgency force.

By Muzaffar Raina in Srinagar
  • Published 19.09.18
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Major Leetul Gogoi. Source: ABP News

Srinagar: The army has removed Major Leetul Gogoi from his unit and attached him to the headquarters of his counter-insurgency force.

The action comes days after an army court of enquiry indicted him for "fraternising" with a Kashmiri girl in a hotel in May.

Major Gogoi was at the centre of a storm last year for using a civilian, Farooq Ahmad Dar, as a human shield against stone throwers, which earned him praise from the army top brass. But the officer landed in trouble in May when he was detained by police with a teenage girl in a Srinagar hotel.

Officials said the major was shifted out of his 53 Rashtriya Rifles unit in central Kashmir's Budgam and attached to the Awantipora-based Victor Force headquarters, responsible for counter-insurgency operations in south Kashmir.

The army is recording the Summary of Evidence where he will get a chance to bring in proof in his defence. In August, an army court of inquiry had indicted him on two counts - for fraternising with a "local" and "for being away from the place of duty while in an operational area" without informing his seniors.

The officer will face a court martial if enough evidence is found against him during the Summary of Evidence, which is likely to take three months.

Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat, who last year awarded a commendation card for the major's role in anti-militancy operations, had ordered a court of inquiry in May and pledged to hand out exemplary punishment if he was found guilty.

On May 23, Maj. Gogoi and territorial armyman Sameer Mala posted in 53 Rashtryia Rifles were detained by the police following a scuffle with some locals and the staff of a hotel where they had entered with the girl.

Maj. Gogoi had booked a room but the management refused to lend him a room after they found that the girl was accompanying him.

Rights activist Ahsan Untoo, who is spearheading the campaign for justice for human shield victim Dar, regretted that the army took no action against Maj. Gogoi for strapping Dar to the bonnet of his jeep and then parade him across villages as a warning to stone throwers.