On the Receiving End

  • Shabir Ibn Yusuf
  • Publish Date: Jul 7 2017 10:29PM
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  • Updated Date: Jul 7 2017 10:29PM
On the Receiving End

Why the Jammu and Kashmir Police is increasingly being targeted by militants.

 

Since the start of 2016, militants have killed at least 29 policemen in Jammu and Kashmir. In the last four months alone, 16 policemen have been slain in Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam. 

On May 28, five policemen and two bank security guards were killed in Phambai area of Kulgam district. Earlier on April 2, a policeman was killed and 10 injured in a grenade attack at Nowhatta in Old Srinagar. On March 5, a policeman died in a gunfight with militants in Tral, Pulwama. Last week, a policeman each was killed in Kulgam and Srinagar.

“Earlier, militants attacked police to snatch weapons, Now, they strike to kill the cops and decamp with their weapons,” said a senior police officer, explaining the rise in attacks on his force. 

Since Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s killing last July, at least 70 weapons have been snatched from mostly policemen in Kashmir.

A parallel trend is the militants threatening policemen’s families to get them to leave the force. In March, around a dozen militants barged into the house of a senior police officer in Shopian district. They ransacked his property and told his family to get him to quit. The incident, according to sources in the police, took place after the security forces raided the house of a top Hizbul Mujahideen militant.

Apparently, the militants trained their gun sights at the state police after family members of the rebels started to be called to police stations. The families allege harassment at the hands of the police. The police deny the allegations of harassment and say they only request them to persuade their kin to surrender.

More worryingly, their almost daily battles with protesters have made the policemen villains in the eyes of even their neighbours and relatives, who have started mounting pressure on them to quit their jobs. Last year, during the unrest, two Special Police Officers publicly announced their resignation from the police in Sopore, Baramulla district. They then joined the protesters in shouting pro-Azadi slogans.

It was to escape the wrath of their immediate society that many mid-level sought transfers to less visible wings of the police like vigilance and crime during last year’s unrest.

“After a sub inspector was threatened by Syed Ali Geelani, transfers started,” the officer said, adding that now most Station House Officers ask to be posted in the areas where they are unknown. “But in this age it is very difficult to remain unknown.”