- Arun Jaitley defended Army major being criticised for tying man to jeep
- In "war-like zone", officers don't need to consult MPs, Mr Jaitley said
- We didn't fire, it was done to save local people, Major Gogoi had said
Major Leetul Gogoi, Mr Jaitley said on Wednesday, was acting in a "war-like zone" and Army officers must be allowed to take decisions in such situations. "Military solutions are to be provided by military officers, not comments of politicians," the minister said. The officers, he said, "don't need to consult members of parliament as to what they should do in such situations."
Major Gogoi, who was honoured with a Commendation Card by Army Chief Bipin Rawat this week, has described how he came to tie a protester, Farooq Ahmed Dar, to his jeep on April 9, when by-elections were held in Srinagar amid violence.
He told reporters that he and his team came up against a 1000-strong crowd of protesters hurling stones and petrol bombs when they responded to an SOS from poll officials and security personnel trapped inside the polling booth. The officer then used Mr Dar as a human shield to evacuate them.
"It was done only to save the local people. Had we opened fire, there would have been a dozen casualties... I got a fraction of a moment to get out safely. I saved at least 12 lives," said Major Gogoi.
At a press conference in Srinagar last week, Mr Jaitley had said it should not be forgotten that the officer had the responsibility to save the lives of those involved in the election process as well as the crowd that had gathered.
A video that showed Mr Dar tied to the jeep went viral on social media, sparking an uproar. A first information report was registered by the Jammu and Kashmir police and the Army constituted a court of inquiry, in which a final report is yet to come.
The People's Democratic Party or PDP, an ally of the BJP has expressed disapproval. Party general secretary Nizamuddin Bhat said it "seems wrong in public perception" and that there should be an investigation.