May 2001 News

Police will take lead in anti-militancy operations: DIG Bijral

25 May 2001
The Daily Excelsior
Dinesh Manhotra

JAMMU: Since his posting as Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of militancy plagued Poonch and Rajouri range, he has been assiduously trying to restore, virtually shattered, confidence among cops to take on terrorists active in this belt. The morale of cops active in anti- militancy operations in this Ďhot-bed of militancyí received severe set back after Manjakote incident in which terrorists killed as many as 18 policemen in one attack. Mr S S Bijral, DIG, Poonch-Rajouri range has reason to make claims as in very short span he has not only inculcated confidence among cops but also initiated efforts to involve people in the anti-militancy campaign. It is all due to his direct interaction with people that authentic information has been coming to the police. Keeping in mind the hostile atmosphere of this area, lecturer turned police officer, who is founder of the Special Security Group, has been trying to make police as people friendly. In his conversations with Weekend-Chat, DIG Bijral discloses steps being taken by him to eradicate menace of militancy. Excerpts vDespite some success cops have gone to barracks after Manjakote incident. What steps you are taking to restore confidence among them? I do agree that Manjakote incident was a severe set back. It is absolutely wrong to say that cops have gone in the barracks. Police personnel are actively participating in the anti-militancy operations with other security forces. In most of the operations which held during the last one month our men were among the security forces. I have been taking some effective steps to restore confidence among cops. Long pending incentives of cops have been cleared besides announcing fresh incentives for those who have been fighting valiantly in anti- militancy operations. We have also decided to equip police with sophisticated weapons. Though Special Operation Group (SoG) of Police have modern equipments but general police men donít have. Very soon general police force will be quipped with modern and sophisticated weapons. vDonít you think that there was some lapses from policeís side which resulted into the biggest ever causality of policemen in decade long militancy? I agree that there was some lapses but I donít want to go into that detail. One thing I want to make clear is that we donít allow repetition of such type of tragedy in future at any cost. Though it was very unfortunate incident. vInvolvement of civilians is must in containing militancy. What steps you are taking in this regard? It is difficult rather impossible to fight with militants without cooperation and support from local people. I have started direct interaction with local people to listen their grievances. We have also constituted police-public committees at police stations and distinct levels to involve people in the activities of the police. To make police more people friendly we have also decided to listen all complaints of the people regarding police. vKillings of civilians, especially nomadic Gujjars, have increased during the last two months. What strategy police has formulated to avoid these types of incidents? Militants resort to killing of civilians to spread terror as local people have been passing more and more information to the security forces. To avoid nefarious designs of militants we have decided to strengthen Village Defence Committees (VDCs). All VDCs of the regions will be connected with the nearby police station as in case of any attack police personnel will reach the spot promptly. We are also planning to provide modern communication equipments and sophisticated weapons to VDC members so that they can effectively take on militants. vThere are reports of differences between Army and police. What steps you are taking to weed-out these differences? I donít think there are any differences. Actually there was some mis-understanding. But after assuming the charge I have strictly directed my men not to take credit of any encounter before consulting concerned authorities. We have removed all mis-understanding regarding taking claims of encounters. Now a days we are working jointly with army as a team to get the people rid from the yoke of militancy and blood-shed. I myself have very cordial relations with army officers. In some cases we have jointly chalked out a strategy to carry out operations. vWhat is the over-all condition of your range? Situation is well under control. Though infiltration has been going on but forces have also maintained pressure on militants. We have achieved some major success in recent days like Hari Buddha incident in which 11 dreaded militants were gunned down. During the last more than one month we have killed as many as 50 militants most of them foreigners. By and large we can say that there is intense pressure on militants. vYou have been in Chief Ministerís security. How do you feel about your new job? Both the jobs are challenging. Only difference is that in my previous posting I was particular about the security of the Chief Minister and now a days I have been doing a field job. I am very much aware of the militancy as I had served as SP Pulwama from 1991 to 1994.


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