SRINAGAR, May 5: Major Leetul Gogoi, who was at the centre of the 2017 “human shield controversy”, will suffer the ignominy of reduction in seniority and exit from Kashmir Valley with the Army headquarters confirming the punishment for “fraternising” with a local woman last year, officials said on Sunday.
A court martial had held Major Gogoi and his driver Sameer Malla guilty on two counts – “fraternising” with a local woman in spite of instructions to the contrary and “being away from the place of duty while in operational area”, the officials said.
The company commander of the unit of Sameer Malla, who was facing charges of unauthorised absence, has been authorised to decide on his punishment which includes a “severe reprimand”.
Sameer Malla was recruited in the Territorial Army in 2017 and he was posted with 53 sector of Rashtriya Rifles, a counter-insurgency force fighting militancy in Jammu and Kashmir.
The proceedings of the court martial were confirmed by the Army headquarters after which it was decided to shift him out the valley, the officials said, adding that the final orders were received very recently.
Major Gogoi and Sameer Malla’s summary of evidence was completed in early February, followed by the initiation of the court martial proceedings, they said.
The statements of the both the accused as well as other witnesses were recorded by the Army court and the punishment, which has been vetted by the Army headquarters, has been given, they added.
Major Gogoi and his driver were detained by Jammu and Kashmir Police following an altercation with the hotel staff when he was allegedly trying to enter it with an 18-year-old woman on May 23 last year.
The woman had expressed her unwillingness to depose during the court martial proceedings and informed the Army authorities that she had given a statement before a magistrate and the same should be treated as her final stand.
The woman had also stated that she had gone out with Major Gogoi on her own will, besides disclosing that she had become a friend of the Army officer through his fake Facebook profile, where he had named himself Ubaid Arman.
Immediately after the incident came to light last year, Army chief Bipin Rawat had said that exemplary punishment would be given to Major Gogoi if he was found guilty of “any offence”.
“If any officer of the Indian Army is found guilty of any offence, we will take strictest possible action,” General Rawat had said.
Major Gogoi hit the headlines after he tied a man to a jeep allegedly as a shield against a mob which was hurling stones during a bypoll at Budgam, which forms part of the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, on April 9, 2017. (PTI)