Human shield is a multi-known and multi-condemned issue. The system is widely introduced because of the inequalities of the two sides of a conflict. The use of human shield recently triggered a controversy in India because it was used by the Army in the Valley of Kashmir. Both India and Pakistan claim Kashmir belongs to them and (at present) a major part of Kashmir is under New Delhi’s control, while the rest is ruled by Pakistan.
Now, the questions are: how can the Army use such extreme immoral method in an Indian territory (especially when the armed forces are considered as the ultimate extent of state power)? What did the Army want to prove by serving a Kashmiri citizen as a “human shield” for a convoy after tying him up to a military jeep earlier in April?
If the Army expects that such a humiliating step will help stop Kashmiri people from pelting stones on Indian armed forces personnel, then we must say that it is a foolish belief. Any sensible person can easily understand that such a move will ultimately (further) alienate the youth of Kashmir. The provincial government of Jammu and Kashmir has filed a First Information Report (FIR) against the officer, who gave the instruction. The FIR was filed after the local police informed the provincial government that it would be difficult for them to maintain law and order, if the Army provoked local youth in such a way.
Former Indian Army Chief General (Retired) Ved Prakash Malik said: “I will haul up the particular officer for violating human rights. It should not be done, but you have to go into the circumstances. We have to investigate what prompted him to do so and then take action.” He described the Army’s security crackdown in Kashmir as “brutal” and cautioned that it would not only feed more militancy, but would also prompt Pakistan to portray India as an “oppressive and suppressive” nation.
Actually, the local police are in deep trouble. They are facing difficulties in maintaining law and order especially after the post by-election period in Kashmir Valley. People are staging protests everywhere in the northern Indian province and the Army made the situation a complex one by using the local youth as a human shield.
Meanwhile, the Narendra Modi government in New Delhi has decided not to punish the concerned officer and support his decision. From the Indian government’s perspective, it is clear that the country is going to face a major crisis. This crisis focuses mainly on a basic mistake committed by the Army (by using the state power unnecessarily). The Indian government must remember that the Army should be used in war times, and not on a daily basis. It is not a good idea to ask the Army to take the responsibility of ‘peacekeeping’ even in extremely sensitive areas on a regular basis. This is a right time for the government to reconsider its decision, even if it made such a decision in the past (due to some ‘unavoidable’ circumstances).
The anger of Kashmiri people is closely associated with the procedure of Army operations. The Army’s main task is to deal with any situation quickly. To find amicable solution to ‘domestic’ problems, the government will have to depend on law enforcement authorities. The Army’s presence in Kashmir is necessary only to guard India’s international borders. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to deal with such a crisis. No Army in the world gets success in mitigating anger of local people and the Indian Army is no exception.
It is a fact that Indian military personnel in Kashmir suffer due to Pakistan and China, who have brainwashed Indians and encouraged them to misbehave with the Army. But, the top political leadership in New Delhi should understand the fact that Kashmir needs a political solution, and not a military solution.