Home India News Anger and resentment in Kashmir over rewarding controversial Army Major

Anger and resentment in Kashmir over rewarding controversial Army Major

By Auqib Javeed, TwoCircles.net

Srinagar: The awarding of Shaurya Chakra to Major Aditya Kumar, whose unit allegedly killed three civilians in Shopian, with Shaurya Chakra on Independence day has been met with strong disapproval and resentment from the Kashmiri population. People said such decisions will only alienate the Kashmiri population further from the Indian state.

Shaurya Chakra is an Indian military decoration awarded for valour, courageous action or self-sacrifice while not engaged in direct action with the enemy. The official list of gallantry award winners was released by the defence ministry on the eve of the Independence Day.

Major Aditya Kumar, who was embroiled in a controversy after his unit fired upon protesters in South Kashmir’s Shopian in January this year leading to the death of three civilians, was among 20 armed forces personnel who were honoured with Shaurya Chakra award.

After the killing of three civilians in Shopian on January 27 2018, the Jammu and Kashmir police filed an FIR against the army personnel involved in the incident.

Journalist and Political Commentator Gowhar Geelani said that this followed an ugly pattern of rewarding and awarding those army officers guilty of human rights violations in Kashmir. “A message is telegraphed that violating rights of Kashmiris has sanctity in mainland India.

“Even after India’s premier investigative agency, CBI produced a charge sheet in the Pathribal fake encounter case of March 2000, not a single armed personal was prosecuted and punished. We also saw how Major Gogoi, who tied a civilian Farooq Dar to the bonnet of a jeep in central Kashmir, was accorded a commendation medal. And now Major Aditya, who is accused of killing three teenagers in Shopian in south Kashmir, has been awarded Shaurya Chakra,” he said.

Gowhar further pointed out that earlier Major Avtar Singh who was accused of killing a leading Human Rights defender advocate Jaleel Andrabi was allowed to flee to California.

“Where on earth do you see a democratic country awarding its Army officers for killing innocent civilians?” asked Javid Ahmad lone, father of slain youth Suhail Ahmad who was among the three civilians allegedly killed by Major Aditya’s unit in Shopian.

“It was shocking for me, but at the same time what can we do?” lamented Javid.

“For God’s sake tell me should the killer of any civilian be hanged or awarded?” questioned Wasim Ahmad Bhat, brother of another slain youth Javid Ahmad Bhat who was also killed in Army firing.

Student activist Shehla Rashid is of the view that awarding Major Aditya is state sanction for human rights violations “This seems to be becoming a trend nowadays as last year, Major Leetul Gogoi, who tied a civilian to an Army Jeep and paraded him through a dozen villages in Budgam, was also awarded,” she told TwoCircles.net.

Rameez Makhdoomi, a Kashmir-based journalist, said gallantry awards are always needed to keep the national armies motivated and value their sacrifices. “In India, this trend of bestowing such awards to controversial officers who are facing serious allegations of civilian killings does not augur well from any parameter,” he said, adding, “It also signifies how little care is shown towards the emotions and sensitivities of Kashmiris by the government of India. The large trend followed in India nowadays is to promote ultra-nationalism and this gallantry award to Major Aditya signifies same. Peace in Kashmir can never be imposed by valuing the barrel of a gun.”

The two main political parties of Jammu and Kashmir – National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party – reacted vehemently against the Shaurya Chakra being awarded to Major Aditya Kumar.

“Honouring Major Aditya with the Shaurya Chakra would serve to further alienate the people of Kashmir, PDP chief spokesman Rafi Ahmed Mir said in a statement.

Firebrand lawmaker of Kashmir Er Rashid says, “on one hand Modi is saying Kashmir issue can be resolved only by hugging Kashmiris and on the other hand they are rewarding those who kill Kashmiris in cold blood, so there is a contradiction in itself, it is the murder of democracy and justice nothing else, it is message to all Kashmiris your life doesn’t matter to us.”

Rashid says it would have been appreciable if the Major would have been punished but in turn he was rewarded.

“I can say that those who will kill Kashmiris will get such Nobel prices, and whosoever is behind the killing of innocent people will be rewarded,” says Yaqoob Dunoo, a businessman who owns a houseboat in Kashmir.

On selecting major Aditya for Shaurya Chakra, an official release said he is being awarded for ‘meticulous planning and gallant action’ during an anti-terror operation in Budgam in Kashmir in November 2017.

In February, the father of Major Aditya had moved the Supreme Court seeking quashing of the FIR filed against his son. During hearing of the case, the Centre said the state government cannot lodge an FIR against serving Army personnel when the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) was in force in the state.

Subsequently, during a hearing on his father’s petition in March, the state government told the apex court that Major Aditya had not been named as an accused. But in July, the J&K government told the Supreme Court that a probe into the Shopian case was justified.