Rights watchdog Amnesty International said on Tuesday awarding a soldier who tied a Kashmiri man to jeep shows disdain for human rights.
In a statement Amnesty International India Executive Director Aakar Patel said: “The Indian Army’s decision to present an award to a soldier suspected of having a man tied to a moving military jeep in Jammu and Kashmir last month gives the impression that it condones human rights abuses.”
“Rewarding an officer who is under investigation for a human rights violation suggests that the Army seems to be willing to not just overlook, but actually valorise an act of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment amounting to torture.”
According to media reports, an Army Major has been awarded the Army chief’s Commendation Card for “sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations”.
The officer is suspected of having ordered 24-year-old Farooq Ahmad Dhar to be tied to a jeep, had a sign reading “I am a stone pelter” pasted to his chest, and driven around for over five hours on April 9 in Budgam district.
Some Army officials have claimed that Farooq Dar was used as a “human shield” to deter people from throwing stones at their convoy. However, in a video of the incident uploaded online on April 14, a voice over a loudspeaker can be heard saying, “This will be the fate of people who throw stones.”
According to media reports, an Army spokesperson on May 22 said that the commendation was given to the Major for “sustained efforts”, but he refused to confirm if it was linked to the April 9 incident.
The Army had ordered a military investigation into the incident. However, it was unclear if the investigation has been completed. The state police also are conducting a criminal investigation into the incident.
Speaking to Amnesty International India, Farooq Ahmad Dhar said: “I want justice. I want the army men who used me as a human shield to be prosecuted. Neither the police nor the Army have approached to record my statement. I am not aware of the developments in the case other than what has been reported in the media.”