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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

An Army Veteran’s View on Major Gogoi ‘Fraternizing’ a Kashmiri Woman Case

Major Leetul Gogoi – he has been in news and on the radar of pseudo-liberals ever since he tied a Kashmiri stone pelter to an Army jeep to stop a murderous mob which wanted to lynch some election officials and the Army convoy accompanying them. Now he again is in news for ‘fraternizing’ with a local woman in a Srinagar hotel. He might be subjected to court marshal. Here is one interesting take on this whole case by an Army Veteran Brigadier Karan Rathore.

In his opinion Major Gogoi is being done in by the system and no one is going to come forward and hold his hand.

He analyses that the sequence of events indicate that he along with his driver were to meet a man and a woman at a hotel. As per J&K police, no crime was committed and no charges were pressed. However, army went ahead and ordered a Court of Inquiry and found him charge-worthy on two counts – being away in out of bounds area without permission and fraternizing with locals, which too is seemingly against orders.

The cherry on the cake was that the Chief declared that if Gogoi was guilty then he will be hauled over the Boondocks, or words to that effect. So it means that the officer is found guilty of misdemeanor and lined up for a court martial. The foul liberals and such unworthy social elements implied that the officer was indulging in ‘unofficer’ like activities and should be severely punished. The people in general have no idea of the conditions and challenges that our officers and men face while operating in the valley.

The entire counter insurgency edifice rests on dynamic gaining of information about the terrorists and their supporters also known as gathering intelligence. Good actions le intelligence leads to contacts and encounters enabling the army to whittle down sizeable the terrorists.

So is intelligence available on a platter? Of course not. Does someone call the army and give them good actionable intelligence? It happens very rarely. So what do our company commanders do since they are the cutting edge of the military in the valley?

They work hard and often adopt innovative means of gathering intelligence. In his assessment that was what Major Gogoi was doing and not ‘unofficer’ acts as have been insinuated by ragamuffins. All actions by them are in good faith.

Good faith presupposes support of the chain in command. As long as the initiative and dynamism of the young officer is bearing fruit in terms of kills, people are happy, but the moment a signal to the otherwise is received down the hierarchy, as in this case, the officer will be hauled up for “being present in an out of bounds area and fraternizing with locals”. He is hardly worthy of court martial charges. A drumbeat of advanced condemnation is being played out and we stand on the side lines watching helplessly.

For such failure of leadership at higher levels, that 300 officers and men have gone to court seeking clarity on what is good faith. If their seniors would have held firm, this situation would not have arisen. Major Gogoi represents yet another victim of good faith being dishonoured.

When Major Gogoi tied a man onto the front of his jeep, it was an act in good faith taken to ensure safety of his men and avoid civilian collateral damage. When Major Gogoi went to a hotel in civvies to meet civilians presumably and very likely to develop intelligence, it was an act in good faith. But observe how in the former case the officer is awarded a commendation and in the latter case with our eyes askance and moral antennas readily accepting the signals coming down the chain of command, the officer is hauled up.

Such acts of vacillation on part of our hierarchy will do no good to the faith that junior officers repose in them. Infact, it will impose a severe check on the derring-do and initiative that our young officers ought to display. And overall bad for the nation.

The army veteran urges ADGPI, Defense Minister to step back and review the drift. He asks the Prime Minister to look into this matter as he feels that Major Gogoi has been framed to get even his earlier action of tying the stone-pelter on his jeep. Otherwise the message going out to the young officer and company commander in the valley is that “if you are going to get too aggressive in the valley, then watch out we’ll fix you somehow.”

Bharat had such commanders, like Manekshaw, Thimmaiya, Hanut, Sagar, Sartaj, Harbaksh and a galaxy of war leaders, of the yore who stood by their officers when they acted in good faith. But now our young and middle rank officers are being forced to go to court seeking protection and definition of good faith. Why have they lost faith in their hierarchical leadership. We need to introspect.

This article has been collated from Retd. Brig. Karan Rathore’s tweet thread at @rathorekaran17

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