Political parties divided over award to Maj Gogoi

The Commendation Certificate by the Army Chief to Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi has generated a fresh debate in the state as Jammu-based political parties, including the ruling BJP, on Tuesday said the award to the Army officer would boost the morale of the security forces fighting the anti-national forces in the Valley.
The decision of the Army has also created a regional divide as Kashmir-centric parties, including the opposition National Conference, have condemned the decision. The Congress, which has base in all three regions of the state, has maintained a guarded silence on the issue.
Additional general secretary of the National Conference Sheikh Mustafa Kamal expressed anguish over the decision of the Army to award Major Gogoi. “It is really distressing to know that the Army would stoop so low in such an unbecoming and unconventional way and in complete disregard to the rules of engagement and operating procedure in peace time, which has taken all right-thinking people at home and abroad by complete surprise,” Kamal said.
“From the video clips of this incident, there is no supporting evidence of a protesting crowd or for that matter an Army column. It was just one Army vehicle with a civilian tied to it. This makes it abundantly clear that it was done to humiliate and insult the people of Kashmir,” he said.
Interestingly, the J&K Government has already registered an FIR in the case but the BJP, which is a partner in the coalition, was quick to hail the decision.
“Major Gogoi displayed initiative, logical thinking, team spirit and tremendous presence of mind in handling an adverse situation as a result of which he managed to save more precious lives,” said spokesman for the state BJP Brigadier (retd) Anil Gupta, adding, “By awarding Major Gogoi, the Army has sent out a clear message to the young officers operating in counter-insurgency/counter-terrorism operations that initiative and ingenuity displayed by field commanders will always be appreciated.”
Chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party, another Jammu-based party, Harsh Dev Singh has also hailed the Army’s decision but minced no words in attacking the BJP for demoralising the security forces fighting terrorism in the Kashmir valley.
“The BJP has been exposed in this case because the state government in which it is an equal partner has already registered an FIR in the case. By implicating a brave Army officer, it has been proved that the BJP is a greater culprit than terrorists,” Harsh Dev said.
The Panthers Party chairman, however, said that Major Gogoi deserved more than a Commendation Certificate because he had exhibited bravery and presence of mind at the time of a crisis. “The Panthers Party compliments the Army Chief for this action,” he said.
Major Gogoi, who had allegedly ordered a Kashmiri man to be tied to a jeep bonnet on April 9 to deter stone-throwers from targeting his troops and election staff, has been awarded a Commendation Certificate for sustained efforts on counter-insurgency.
Coming down heavily upon those who have criticised the award, the BJP spokesman said these individuals and parties have a single point agenda to arouse anti-Army sentiments.
“Why do they remain mum and not criticise the acts of stone-throwing and hurling of petrol bombs on security personnel?” he questioned.

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