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Civilian as human shield, jawans as punching bags: No end to Kashmirs's tragedy

Priyata Brajabasi | Updated on: 15 April 2017, 9:06 IST

A video went viral on social media on 14 April showing a Kashmiri youth tied in front of an Army jeep and used as a human shield in Gundipora in Kashmir’s Budgam district.

The video emerged two days after a video of CRPF jawans being heckled and harassed by a Kashmiri mob was circulated on social media and sparked outrage all over the country.

As the latter video emerged on social media, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was among the many Twitter users who reacted with outrage at the video, in which the army is heard announcing "this is how stone throwers will be dealt with”.

Omar in one of his tweets wrote, “I understand the outrage the CRPF video generated. I’m also outraged that the video of the youth on the jeep won’t generate the same anger. Let’s see channels going ballistic & having discussions with outraged panelists now. Probably not since “Kashmir is ours” hell with Kashmiris.”

The Army has not yet released an official statements about the video. When reached for a response, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, the Srinagar-based spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence told Catch, “The contents of the video are being verified and investigated.”

According to an NDTV report, a source in the Army explained that this video of a Kashmiri youth used as a human shield was filmed when a group of polling officers were trying to escape a polling station and faced a mob of stone-throwers. In the report the army source says they would have been lynched by 400 people, and were quick to add that the man tied to the fender of the jeep acted as a shield and was not harmed.

"To defend themselves, the Company Commander caught hold of a protestor and tied him to his jeep," sources said.

The army and polling officers reportedly left the area safely without any more stone pelting and the protester was handed over to the police, the NDTV report claims.

The use of civilians as human shields in conflict zones has been criticised by International Courts and is a gross violation of international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention. The Israeli Defence Forces have been known to use civilians as human shields in the occupied Palestinian territories. However, this is the first time that videographic evidence has emerged suggesting that the Indian army too has adopted a similar method of dealing with militant threats or hostile crowds.

If proven true, the use of civilians as a human shield could be in violation of Indian law and the constitutional guarantees of right to life.

Many on social media are justifying the latter video as a response to the video of CRPF personnel being attacked and heckled without reacting to provocation. Three people have now been arrested in connection with the incident. The jawans in the video showed admirable restraint and patience but the question that many are asking now is whether the Army or paramilitary forces can resort to such actions in conflict zones that compromise basic human rights? Also, is this how the Indian Army wants to represent itself in one of the most conflict-ridden parts of the country?

The government in the centre and their ally in J&K are yet to respond to the incident.

First published: 14 April 2017, 20:15 IST
Priyata Brajabasi @PriyataB

Priyata thinks in words and delivers in pictures. The marriage of the two, she believes, is of utmost importance. Priyata joined the Catch team after working at Barcroft Media as a picture desk editor. Prior to that she was on the Output Desk of NDTV 24X7. At work Priyata is all about the news. Outside of it, she can't stay far enough. She immerses herself in stories through films, books and television shows. Oh, and she can eat. Like really.