Used as ‘human shield’ last time, Dar now on poll duty

Used as ‘human shield’ last time, Dar now on poll duty

Srinagar: Nearly two years ago, when Srinagar voted in a Lok Sabha bypoll, Farooq Ahmed Dar was used as a ‘human shield’ to ensure safe passage for army jawans as they came under intense stone-pelting, but now he finds himself posted on election duty.
“Farooq Ahmad Dar is working on consolidated terms as sweeper in the Health Department. He has been posted on election duty,” said Budgam Chief Medical Officer Nazir Ahmad.
In 2017, a picture of Dar tied to the bonnet of an army jeep splashed across the front pages of newspaper, invoking sharp but divided reactions.
Investigations later found he was on his way to his sister’s place for a condolence meet after casting his vote in the bypoll on April 9 2017 when the army picked him up and tied him with ropes, parading him through nearly 28 villages.
“What was my mistake? Going to the polling booth and casting my ballot?” Dar had told PTI in a video interview last year.
At this village, nearly 40 kms from the Srinagar city, where Dar was tied to the army jeep, the incident is still fresh in the minds of the locals.
After the polls opened at the Utligam polling station, only two of the registered 1,016 voters had cast the ballots in the first 100 minutes.
The residents allege the stone-pelting was in response to the “unprovoked harassment” of the locals by the army officer and the “vandalism” by the troops.
“It was the army personnel who went berserk and started beating up people and broke window panes of many houses that day. The youngsters were infuriated and retaliated by pelting them with stones,” Nazir Ahmad, a local resident, told PTI.
Ahmad admits the stone-pelting was very intense, which probably forced Major Leetul Gogoi to catch hold of Dar and use him as a human shield.
“He is not even from our village. He is from Cheill-Brass village, 15 kilometres from here. That incident has brought only unwanted attention from all sides to our village. If we vote, it is a problem and if we do not vote, it is a problem,” he said.
Mohammad Aslam, another villager, said the police picked up 22 youths from the village over the past couple of days without any charge.
“Most of them are labourers and students. We are least bothered about if any one comes to vote or not. We have formed a committee to ensure there is law and order problem in our village this time because we are concerned about our boys,” he said.
There is a sense of deja vu among some residents here.