Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi was on Monday recommended for the prestigious Army Chief Commendation Card for sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations. The man in question had ordered to tie a Kashmiri to his jeep’s bonnet to prevent mob from attacking the army. The video of the incident that took place on April 9 went viral on social media sparking a major debate over the methods employed by army to control the situation in the valley. Subsequently, the army ordered an inquiry, the result of which is till awaited.
Explaining his side of the story, Major Gogoi, in an interaction with media on Tuesday, defended his action saying it saved lives.
Here we have queued up Major Gogoi’s justification on the controversial incident:
1) “I have not fired a bullet, not beaten up anyone… there was no collateral damage. From my point of view I have not violated anything… We are here to help the people. The Army is here for common people, against those with weapons and those who fight against nation,” he said.
2) Major Gogoi said that he got a call from an ITBP officer that 1,200 people had surrounded them, and they were trying to burn down the polling booth with patrol bombs. Following which, the officer rushed to the scene.
3) The officer said that he attempted to calm down the situation but to no avail. “When we reached the spot, people had started pelting stones, and they included ladies and children. We were unable to move out of the vehicles,” Major Gogoi said. Repeatedly, he made announcement appealing for calm to the locals, but to no avail.
4) The officer claimed, it was then he spotted Farooq Ahmad Dar 9the alleged stonepelter) standing some 30 meters ahead of them and instigating the crowd. “Somehow, despite intense stone pelting, we caught hold of him,” he said.
5) The officer also said that his team rescued four civil polling staff, seven ITBP personnel and one J&K police personnel. “We started moving towards road, but my mine protected vehicle got stuck in a muddy area and then stone pelting again started, and there was an announcement in mosque, and someone threw a petrol bomb at the army column, Major Gogoi said.
6) It was then Major Gogoi said that the idea of tying up Dar to the jeep occurred to him.
7) Gogoi ordered his men to take hold of the alleged instigator “I immediately told my boys (colleagues) to catch hold of him. He was instigating the crowd and might have been the ringleader.”
8) Gogoi also claimed that Dar started to run away when he saw the forces coming towards him “When he saw us, he started running towards the crowd and got on his bike. Somehow, we caught him,” the Major recalled.
9) Describing it as a “do-or-die situation”, he said “If I hadn’t done that, at least 12 or more lives could have been lost… Had I fired, there would have been casualties.”