During recently election in Kashmir valley, there was widespread protest. Voter turn out was 7%. Many believe there was widespread boycott of election. I think, boycott was enforced by fear of violence. People felt if they came to out to vote, they may risk life of their near and dear ones. At many places protestors had ransacked election booths. Voting machines were burnt. There was heavy stone pelting at security forces.
Major Nitin Gogoi, an young army officer, was asked to rescue a team of election officers and security men from a polling booth. Men were sorounded by stone pelters. There was attempt to set the booth on fire. Men inside the booth risked being burnt to death if they stayed in. But if they went outside, they risked being hit by stones. Army major tied a Kashmiri man to his jeep and drove through area. Stone pelting stopped to prevent Kashmiri man from getting hurt. In the process army managed to rescuse election officers as well as members of security forces who were trapped inside election booth. Uncoventional act of the major had saved lives of Kashmiri stone pelters as well as those of security men and polling officers.
This act was heavily criticised for violating human right of the Kashmiri man by using him as a human shield. It is said that the man had come out to vote. He had no link with stone pelters. Many had expressed doubt that such acts lead to loss of credibility of army among Kashmiri population. More so when the man was not a stone pelter. He had come out to vote despite a boycott call. According to army officer, however, this man was inciting stone pelters. I tend to believe Major Gogogi because he was present at the scene. Others were offering second hand version.
I think the major had done the right thing under a most trying circumstances. He had limited force. If he had opened fire, definitely a few people would have died or might have been hurt. There was no guarantee if stone pelting would have stopped. There was a chance that none of the trapped people would come out alive. The same people who are criticising the major, would be up in arms for cruelty and human rights violation, if any stone pelter had died. At least by adopting an unconventional measure, major had saved lives on both side of the divide. At least on this occasion no Kashmiri mother lost her son / daughter. No son / daughter from rest of India lost his/her father, brother or husband.
I felt army major should have been given a commendation. I am happy that army has not tried to be politically correct and recognised quick thinking of a young major.