38-year old Major Leetul Gogoi, belonging to the 53 Rashtriya Rifles, had tied a Kashmiri man to a jeep to shield his team against stone pelters during the Srinagar by-elections on April 9. This won him both praises and criticism. In a recent news update, it is said that he has been honoured with the Army Chief's 'Commendation Card' for his 'sustained efforts' in counter-insurgency operations. 

Although the court of inquiry (CoI) into the incident is under finalisation, honouring him for counter insurgency ops is seen as a backing of his action in Jammu and Kashmir. Army spokesperson Col. Aman Anand said, "Major Gogoi has been awarded the Chief of Army Staff's Commendation Card for his sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations."

Inside sources say that all factors, including Gogoi's performance and overall emerging indicators of the Court of Inquiry have been well considered while conferring the award to him. Sources also say that the award was conferred to him during Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat's visit to Jammu and Kashmir last week. The award is a prestigious one that is conferred for distinguished services and devotion to duty. Meanwhile, the CoI was asked to probe into the circumstances that prompted Gogoi to tie the man to his jeep's bonnet as a human shield.

Meanwhile, Gogoi has garnered a major support from BJP MP from Mysuru-Kodagu Pratap Sinha for his action. He, in fact, Tweeted “If any kind of action is initiated against brave Maj Gogoi, let’s start a nationwide campaign to support him.”

Who is he?

Belonging to Assam, Gogoi joined the forces when he was just 18 years old. He served as a jawan in the 3rd Battalion of Assam Regiment. He then shifted to Dehradun-based Army Cadet College (ACC) to become an officer.

He was commissioned as a lieutenant in Decamber 2008. He then volunteered to serve the Rashtriya Rifles in Kashmir in the army service corp.

What exactly happened that day?

The location is Kashmir's Budgam and it was election day. One of the polling booth was targetted by 900 people who were not only pelting stones at the ITBP jawans and the J&K Police, but were hurling boulders too. The main agenda of the stone pelters was to stop people from casting their votes. 

The J&K police and the ITBP jawans were outnumbered and using guns was not a solution since it could have escalated the situation. Narrating his horrendous experience, a trapped ITBP jawan said, "They threatened us that they would lynch us all to death. We were 9 people in total, they were in hundreds. We immediately called the Army station commander and sent out a SOS message. The Army Commander immediately helped us. He sent in a Quick Response Team (QRT) with one jeep and one bus."

However, the QRT also realised that their 17 men were outnumbered and that there was no way they could come out live when the commander came up with this idea. He caught hold of one of the stone pelters and tied him to the bonnet of the jeep and drove past the 900 men. Not only did they enter the booth, they also saved the 9 ITBP and J&K Police personnel. 

Meanwhile, congratulatory messages flood the social media site Twitter.