November 2002 News

Sayeed to ''reorient'' Special Operations Group in J&K

29 November 2002
The Hindustan Times
Agence France-Presse

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed said on Friday that there was a need to ''reorient'' counter-insurgency police in the state as the force was ''creating 10 terrorists while assisting in nabbing one.'' ''There is a need to reorient the Special Operations Group (SOG),'' he said in a statement issued overnight. The SOG was set up in 1996 and mainly comprises local policemen and surrendered terrorists. It is widely hated in Jammu and Kashmir, with residents accusing it of abuses ranging from extortion to murder. ''It is being felt that by assisting in nabbing one terrorist, they (the SOG) are in fact creating 10 more terrorists,'' he said. Sayeed''s People''s Democratic Party, which along with the Congress Party formed a coalition in the state after September-October elections, had promised to disband the force if it came to power. However, under pressure from New Delhi and its security agencies, Sayeed has decided rather to ''reorient'' the counter-insurgency police. ''I want terrorism to be tackled firmly,'' said Sayeed, ''but at the same time unnecessary harassment of civilians will not be accepted, human rights violations the least.'' Sayeed emphasised the need for reforms in the police force, saying it would have to become more people-friendly. ''Since a cop comes in daily contact with the people and becomes a deciding factor about the image of the entire force, people with higher qualification and merit needed to be inducted at cop''s level,'' he said. ''They can make a better appreciation of the situation and deal with people with greater responsibility.'' Sayeed also condemned terrorists for killing innocent people. ''I do not find any justification in killing of innocents and political workers by terrorists,'' he said, urging the security forces to ''act with firmness.''


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