Farooq Ahmad, Kashmir’s ‘Human Shield’ declines Big Boss offer

Artisan Farooq Ahmad Dar, 29, who hit the headlines in April last year after an Army Major tied him to a jeep as a human shield, has claimed to have rejected a ₹ 50 lakh offer to be on Colours’ reality show Big Boss, as he continues his fight for compensation with the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) in Kashmir.

Mr. Dar, who hails from the nondescript and far-off Chill village of Budgam, said: “I was offered ₹50 lakh by Big Boss producers in July last year. They even told me that tickets for me were ready.”

TV Channel Colors, in its response, called Mr. Dar’s claim ‘speculation’, and refused to confirm or deny whether he was offered ₹50 lakh to participate in Bigg Boss.

The said offer had come just three months after Mr. Dar’s video images — of him tied to an Army jeep and paraded in several villages on April 9 — went viral on social media and attracted instant criticism in the Valley and praise from many quarters in other parts of the country.

Ahsan Untoo, head of the International Forum for Justice and Mr. Dar’s petitioner before the SHRC, confirmed the claim. “We were pursuing his compensation case when an unknown Big Boss producer approached him on phone. However, Dar is not a celebrity but a victim,” said Mr. Untoo.

Mr. Dar declined the offer even while pursuing his compensation case with the SHRC. The Jammu & Kashmir government in November last year rejected the SHRC recommendation of ₹10 lakh compensation to Mr. Dar for the “humiliation and physical anxiety he went through.”

Mr. Untoo said the government claimed that it had “no scheme or policy which could cover the payment of compensation in such matters”. It said the grounds on which the compensation was recommended “cannot be accepted”.

A tailor and shawl-weaver by profession, Mr. Dar’s life has taken a different trajectory since the incident took place. He went into a bout of depression and was put on medication. “I stopped work for a long period after the incident,” said Mr. Dar, who lives with his mother.

He was again shocked to see his image on T-shirts online when Delhi BJP spokesperson Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga’s company, Bagga Fashions, began selling them with the caption “Indian army … saving your a** whether you like it or not”. The T-shirts drew criticism from rights activists and were widely condemned by the residents of J&K.

According to police sources, the Army till date has failed to provide “requisite information” despite an FIR being lodged in the human shield case.

Mr. Dar says he is waiting for a closure. Eleven witnesses have deposed in the case so far. Mr. Dar was returning from a polling both after casting his vote when the Army officer strapped him to the jeep in an area where stone throwers had taken to the streets.