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Army ties man to jeep as human shield

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Army using a young man as a human shield in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam district invited a swift inquiry and justice but also compelled the army and the government to issue clear statements on the unacceptability of this shocking practice. The video clip that went viral showed a man tied to the bonnet of an army jeep being driven through the streets, as it escorted election officials on polling day in the Srinagar parliamentary constituency. The man identified as Farooq Dar, a 26-year-old who embroiders shawls, and the army personnel are said to belong to the 53 Rashtriya Rifles. There is a lack of clarity on exactly what happened, including how long Mr. Dar was tied to the bonnet. On one hand, Dar claimed he was subjected to this humiliation as the vehicle passed through 10 to 12 villages, however, army sources have been quoted as saying it was for just about 100 metres. The larger point here is that if he was indeed forcibly strapped onto the bonnet, it amounts to an instance of gross human rights violation.

There is no argument that the Army, which is caught in a situation in which terrorists attempt to blend in with the civilian population, is fighting a difficult and unenviable battle. But the difficulties in fighting a hybrid war do not constitute a justification for the use of human shields, which is categorised as a war crime by the Geneva Conventions.

Only a couple of days before the human shield video surfaced, another one which showed CRPF personnel exercising admirable restraint as they were pushed and beaten by youth in Kashmir had gone viral. It is ironic and hypocritical that some of those who commended such self-control are now defending the indefensible use of a human shield. Violation of human rights must be avoided under all circumstances, even at the cost of operational success.

— Bhagwan Thadani, Mumbai

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