"Gareeb log hain, kya karengey complain (We are poor people, what will we complain). I live alone with my asthmatic mother who is 75-years-old. I am scared. Anything can happen to me. I am not a stone-pelter.”
Two days after a video of a CRPF Jawan being heckled and hit by a mob in Budgam district in Kashmir went viral, another video from the state in which a man is seen tied to an army jeep, allegedly as a human shield against stone-pelting, had gone viral on social media, creating an outrage in the Valley and forcing the authorities and the army to investigate the matter.
The man, who was seen tied to an army jeep on polling day has been identified as Farooq Dar, while the army unit involved in the act was 53 Rashtriya Rifles.
Officials investigating the matter on the instructions of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said Dar is a resident of Sitaharaan village in Khag tehsil of Budgam in central Kashmir.
During investigation, Dar said he was out to cast his vote and later visit his sister's house, where a bereavement had taken place, to offer condolences.
Dar told investigators that after exercising his right to vote, he was proceeding towards his sister's village when he was caught by the army personnel who wanted to enter Beerwah village along with the polling staff, the officials said.
He was tied to a jeep as the army moved into the village along with a convoy of jawans and some polling staff, they said. The civilian said that he was released after he was paraded in 10 to 12 villages.
Dar, a Shawl artisan has refuted the charges that he is a stone pelter.
The Indian Express quoted Dar as saying, “I am not a stone-pelter. Never in my life have I thrown stones. I work as an embroiderer of shawls, and I know some carpentry. This is what I do.”
According to the report, Dar said he will not file a complaint. “Gareeb log hain, kya karengey complain (We are poor people, what will we complain). I live alone with my asthmatic mother who is 75-years-old. I am scared. Anything can happen to me. I am not a stone-pelter.” His mother Fazie agreed: “No, we don’t want any inquiry. We are poor people. I don’t want to lose him. He is the only one I have to look after me in my old age.”
The video in which the 26-year-old tailor is seen tied to an army jeep was reportedly shot in Beerwah area of Budgam district where miscreants disrupted polling during Sunday's bypoll to Srinagar Lok Sabha constituency by pelting stones. It is being widely shared on social networks in Kashmir and is drawing condemnation.
"This young man was TIED to the front of an army jeep to make sure no stones were thrown at the jeep? This is just so shocking!" Omar wrote on Twitter.
The NC leader, who represents Beerwah seat in the state assembly, said that while he understands the outrage generated across the country by a video in which CRPF personnel were being heckled by protestors, he was outraged that the video of the youth tied to the jeep was not generating the same anger.
Sources in the army, which has promised an enquiry, claimed that Dar was picked up from a "trouble spot" and was tied up for barely 100 metres before being released.
An earlier video of a CRPF Jawan showing restrain even as he is seen being heckled and hit by a mob has prompted action after the video circulated on social media and set off nationwide outrage.
PTI reported that after receiving a complaint from the CRPF, five persons were arrested, and a hunt was on for others seen in the video shot in Budgam district, police said.
Budgam accounted for the death of seven of the eight protesters during the poll-day violence.
(With inputs from PTI)
To see the video, click here.