On April 9 this year, the by-election for the Srinagar-Budgam parliamentary constituency was being held which witnessed the lowest ever turnout, 7%, in its electoral history, and mobs of locals tried to attack some polling stations. As a result, eight civilians died in firing by security forces.
Almost the same day a video went viral showing a civilian tied to the bonnet of an army jeep whom the army described as ‘human shield’ against the stone pelters and justified the move. The incident occurred in Kashmir’s Budgam district and the video was widely shared on social media sites.
Major Leetul Gogoi, who ordered to use the ‘human shield’ had claimed that the ‘human shield’ was leading a mob of stone pelters and drove him for over five hours across 17 villages over 28 kilometers.
The man in the video was identified as 26-year-old Farooq Ahmad Dar, a resident of Chill Village in Beerwah sub-district, who ironically was among the very few villagers who went out to cast their vote on that day.
Farooq said he was paraded through several villages for about five hours before his family members and villagers got him released from the army’s custody in the evening.
An interim report of a police inquiry into the infamous incident backs the claim of Farooq that he had gone out to vote that morning.
“Police saw voter mark on Dar’s finger the day we went to investigate the case,” a senior police official in Budgam told HT.
“During investigation, it came to light that the victim Farooq Ahmad Dar had cast his vote at polling booth in his native village, Chill. After casting his vote, he along with Hilal Ahmad Magrey left for Gampora for a condolence meeting,” the report says.
The interim report says “the investigation of the instant case is going on and after obtaining reports from District Election office Budgam/Coy Commander 53 RR Camp Beerwah and analysing of video clips the investigation of the instant case will be concluded on its merits.”
“Please check my name in the list of voters. If I voted for democracy, why would I stop others from voting and pelt stones?” asks Farooq.