SRINAGAR Major Leetul Gogoi, who was at the centre of the 2017 ‘human shield controversy’, has been “severely reprimanded” and will suffer the ignominy of reduction in seniority for “fraternising” with a local girl last year, officials said here on Sunday.
This follows confirmation by the army headquarters of court martial proceedings against Major Gogoi and his driver Sameer Malla who were found 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.
After the confirmation of the sentence, Major Gogoi has been transferred out of Kashmir Valley.
Army sources said in New Delhi that Major Gogoi has been punished with “severe reprimand and six months loss of seniority for pension only” and the disciplinary vigilance ban on him has been lifted to pave way for his “normal posting”.
The Army sources also maintained that he had been posted out of Kashmir Valley after completion of his tenure of two years in the unit.
The company commander of the unit of Malla, who was facing charges of unauthorised absence, has been authorised to decide on his punishment which includes a “severe reprimand”.
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 and the final orders were received very recently, the officials said.
Gogoi and 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 girl on May 23 last year.
The girl 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 girl 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 purportedly as a shield against an unruly mob which was hurling stones during a by-poll in Budgam, which forms part of the Srinagar Lok Sabha seat, on April 9, 2017.