Human shield image will haunt India for ever, say former military generals

A day after the video of a youth tied to an army vehicle went viral, two senior former army generals expressed outrage over the incident saying that the image will haunt the army for a long time now.

 “Image of a ‘stone pelter’ tied in front of a jeep as a ‘human shield’, will 4 ever haunt the Indian Army & the nation,” Lt Gen H S Panag wrote on his twitter. “When the State starts looking like a mirror image of the terrorists, it spells ominous portents!”

In response, journalist Rahul Singh re-tweeted: “This image will cost us tax payers multiple crore in Army’s image management cost.”

In an earlier tweet, a response to a security analyst Nitin Gokhle, the General had tweeted: “U have covered J&K enough to the ans. I have yet to see a mob stand after a few placed shots on the knees. This image is classic Vietnam.” Gokhle was an editor at NDTV earlier.

The speaking picture and the shot cell phone video clip was initially celebrated by the jingoistic social website activists. However, it has now started a mild wave of self introspection and the costs it entails.

Lieutenant General Harcharanjit Singh Panag retired from army in December 2008 and has led the Northern Command. Father of actress Gul Panag, the general is considered a liberal.

Earlier General BS Jaswal, former Army commander, Northern Command, was quoted saying that taking a human shield was illegal and a violation of laid down military procedure.

The Army officer should have got out of his vehicle when the stone-pelting started, pulled out a weapon and fired a warning shot below the waist, and had the crowd not dispersed, fired again for effect, he was quoted saying.

The haunting image was understood later after the ‘human shield’ came walking home from the army garrison in Arizal where he was beaten before being sent home.

He has been identified as Farooq Ahmad Dar, a resident of Chill village. He said he was going to attend mourning in a neighbouring village when he was intercepted by the soldiers, tied to a jeep with ropes and driven to a number of village. He had a paper attached on his chest, the warning of which was not known.

Dar told reporters that in a village if he wished to talk to villagers, he was rebuked and threatened. His brother told reporters that they actually had to lead a delegation to the particular army camp to get him free.

Independent lawmaker Hakim Yasin said he was aware of the happening and had talked to the local army commanders that eventually led to his release.

Though army said Dar was a stone pelter, enquiries suggested that he is actually a shawl weaver with no such record. But the larger point is that even if he would have been a stone pelter does the systems and the procedures permit it. Army has said it has launched an enquiry.

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