On 9 April 2017, 27-year-old Farooq Ahmad Dar was tied to the bonnet of an army jeep as a “human shield”, and paraded through 17 villages in Kashmir’s Badgam district. One year later, the six-hour parade still haunts Dar, who still believes that the system “wronged him”.
In an exclusive interview to The Quint, the then shawl-weaver Dar opens up about battling depression, how he believes voting was a “mistake”, his problems with representation of the incident – including the recently released Baaghi 2 and the printing of T-shirts by a BJP leader.
A dejected Dar said that he has been “wronged” and was treated like an animal and not a human being. He claimed that though there was no law that mandated Major Leetul Gogoi to tie him to the jeep and parade him, he still did so and that his “life was over”.
The incident took place during the by-elections in 2017, when Dar was among the 7.1 percent voters who turned up to exercise their right. But again, one year later, Dar regrets his decision.
“When I cast my vote, I made a mistake. I will never ever vote again. Seeing my fate, others shouldn’t either,” said Dar, speaking to The Quint.
“I Thought My Life Was Over”
According to Dar, no one came forward to help him after the incident, until Human Rights Lawyer Mohammed Ahmad Untoo approached him. Not only did he take care of the legal aspects that cropped up after the incident, he also reportedly gave Dhar the courage to “stand up for himself”.
Eventually, Dar says, he slipped into depression and needed medical attention.
It has been one year since the humiliation. But no one came forward until Untoo saab came on 12 April to my house. He gave me the courage to stand for myself. I was devastated and felt better only after I got medical attention. I thought my life was over.
He also added that no one was ready to employ him, as several agencies, including the CID and the police, were constantly on the lookout for him.
I have no work as no one is ready to employ me. Why, you may ask. Its because CID, police, and all agencies are behind me. So everyone avoids me.
On “Misrepresentation” of the Incident
In a recently released film Baaghi 2, Tiger Shroff plays a army commando in Kashmir who apprehends a man, ties him to the front of his jeep and uses him as a human shield to get through a lane full of stone-pelters. The scene is a reference to what happened with Dar.
Slamming the portrayal in the film, Dar said that it was a “misrepresentation of facts”.
I am totally against the representation of the incident. I cast my vote and they wronged me.
He also called out BJP leader Tajinder Bagga, who printed T-shirt marking one year after the incident. Not only did he appeal to Bagga to stop producing the t-shirts, he also said that such incidents make him feel “depressed”.
First, they treated me wrong, then made a film on it. Then they printed T-shirts about the incident. They are all taking benefit out of my situation. I feel depressed day-by-day. If you have a child, and he was in my position, will you still print T-shirts.
It is to be noted that till date, no evidence has been found that Dar was guilty of any crime when he was tied to the jeep. The army, however, awarded Major Gogoi a commendation card for 'sustained efforts' on counter-insurgency operations.
Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam
(With inputs from Aijaz Khan from Srinagar)