Last month two videos went viral on social media, the first one showed the poise and restraint displayed by an army Jawan in the midst of extreme provocation on the streets of Kashmir. While people were still expressing anger and indignation at the crude treatment meted out to this soldier, another video was posted by the ex- Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir Omar Abdullah. The second video posted as a rejoinder to the first, featured a Kashmiri man seated and tied to the bonnet of an army jeep accompanied by announced warnings to stone-pelters to refrain from throwing stones.
This was enough to kick up a storm as ‘activists’, politicians and certain sections of the media started their usual tirade about ‘human rights’ and army discipline etc etc. The man on the jeep was identified as Farooq Ahmed Dar, while some journalists claimed that he was a shawl-weaver attending a wedding in the area where he was picked up, others made it more dramatic by insisting that he had gone there to cast his vote.
Amidst all the noise and furore caused by the video on Social Media and TV debates, the explanation offered by the army was more or less sidelined by those interested in latching on to this incident to malign our security forces. A polling booth in the area had been surrounded and attacked by an anti-India slogan shouting local mob that included women and children, all pelting stones. Major Leetul Gogoi, the man in-charge, needed to take a quick decision. He had to get through a murderous mob armed with stones to save the personnel trapped in the polling booth, he could give orders to his men to fire and disperse the hundred-strong crowd and end up killing and injuring several Kashmiris and face the consequences later or he could improvise.
The intelligent young Major decided to try the latter! Only a soldier with first-hand experience of the difficulties faced by the forces in Kashmir could think and come up with such an out of the box solution to such a chronic problem. The Major was getting frantic SOS calls from his trapped colleagues and watching the mob in front of him swell, he could hear the loudspeakers in the nearby mosque telling people to congregate. There was barely any time to plan, he looked around and spotted a burly local dressed in a pheran who was instigating the people and shouting anti-India slogans loudly. Major Gogoi, in an interview with ‘NewsX’, stated that this ‘fat man’ seemed to be the ring-leader of the stone-pelters and he tried to flee from the scene as soon as the soldiers moved towards him. It was also noticed that Farooq Dar did not belong to that area in Budgam, he was said to be from a village at least some distance away. So much for the sob-story about him being an ‘innocent’ voter!
By choosing to place Dar on his jeep, Major Gogoi ensured safety for his men and managed to save those held hostage in the polling booth. More importantly, he opted for a non-violent way to deal with a difficult situation, the only other choice would have been to open fire which is probably what Pakistan and its stooges wanted. Had the Major exercised that option there would have been bloodshed followed by the predictable protests about ‘human rights’ violations from our celebrity journalists. By selecting the leader of the pack as a shield, the Major made sure that the pelters would not risk hurting him. So there was no danger to Dar safely ensconced on the jeep engine.
‘What a creative solution to a vexing problem!’, every rational Indian lauded Major Gogoi’s initiative except for the usual Gang of Naysayers who are adept at using Twitter to start a string of connected and similar condemnatory tweets, setting in motion a virtual hate campaign. What was started by a Twitter-addict like Omar Abdullah was carried forward by the rest, including a retired General, the usual set of journalists, ‘activists’, JNU- leftists and of course the waiting for an opportunity Opposition! The overwhelming majority of Indians, however continued to support the Major and demanded that his bravery be recognized and awarded. The Army with its commitment to discipline and procedure, had initiated an inquiry into the incident and decided to wait for the verdict.
With the completion of that inquiry, the Army Chief finally put our thoughts into words by announcing a commendation medal for Major Gogoi. Of course, this brave soldier who saved so many lives, avoided collateral damage and showed how the conservative approach is not always the best way to diffuse a delicate situation, deserves all the praise and appreciation that comes his way. No amount of carping and feigned outrage can affect one’s spontaneous and positive reaction to this incident. By supporting the Major’s action, the Army Chief has shown faith in his soldiers and boosted their morale.
Meanwhile, while the nation celebrates this honour bestowed on Major Gogoi for his quick thinking and courage, the Pak-agents rant and rave wherever and whenever they find space. There are attempts to create controversies like the one over Paresh Rawal’s tweet where he suggested that Dar should have been replaced by Separatist-supporter Arundhati Roy. Is this the first time that such a tweet has been composed? What about the ones where other celebrities were targeted? Yet another instance of selective FOE!
Leaving aside all these expected tantrums, the one point that sticks out like a sore thumb is that the J&K Govt has decided to now conduct an inquiry into the jeep incident. It is surprising that while MOS Home, Jitender Singh praises the Major, the PDP which is supposed to be in alliance with the BJP, evidently prefers to pander to the ‘sentiments’ of the Hurriyat/National Conference and other Separatists. Like most political parties struggling for survival in Kashmir, PDP is playing to the gallery by assuaging Separatist sentiments and overriding the stated opinion of its alliance partner.