Demoralized & Helpless, J&K Cops Refuse Field Duty22 July 2010
Times of India
Srinagar: Caught between mob fury and politics, J&K police seems to have disintegrated into a demoralized force with several of its officers refusing field postings, saying their hands were tied due to instructions against the use of force against stone-pelters. Sources said the demoralization came to fore on Monday when Baramulla SSP Sheikh Mehmood deserted his force at the first sign of trouble feigning a heart ailment. The officer left the town after the situation seemed to be going out of control after two youth - Faizan Bhuroo (13) and Fayaz Ahmad Khanday (30) - were killed and 25 others injured in police action. Mehmood was transferred along with another dozen officers the same day and posted as SSP traffic, Kashmir. Former CID SSP Ghulam Hassan Bhat declined to take over and instead preferred attachment to the police headquarters. A police officer, who said he would decline field posting as well, said the cops were helpless and had to follow orders on maximum restrain. 'I don't want the posting in the present environment where authorities stop us from using force against the protesters who can even lynch us,' he said. The officers particularly avoid hometown postings, which makes even their families vulnerable to attacks. 'The instructions on exercising restraint makes it worse.' The recent police reshuffle indicated most officers were transferred to their hometowns. The officers have by and large expressed their reservations in taking up the new responsibilities. 'The then Baramulla SHO Khurshid Ahmad's family had a narrow escape when a mob set fire to his house at Khwaja Bagh in Baramulla while he was away managing street protests in August 2008,' said a top cop. Another senior cop cautioned against April 1992-like police revolt when DGP B S Bedi and home commissioner Mehmood-ur-Rehman besides several senior officers were held hostage at Srinagar's police control room. The 48-hour drama ended after the Army was called in. Insiders compare the demoralization with the mood in the force following the 1990s militant onslaught. Worse, the Central forces accuse the J&K police of shirking its responsibilities. A CRPF officer noted that over 200 paramilitary personnel were injured in the recent spell of unrest, against minor injuries to over two dozen J&K cops to underline the latter's unwillingness to take charge in crowd control. The paramilitary force also resents J&K police's attempt to pass the buck and blame the CRPF for civilian killing. The mistrust, which underlines serious lack of coordination among various security agencies, could add to the woes of the state government that has been under fire for its failure to stem street protests that started after a 17-year-old boy was killed in police action on July 11. The Army had to be called in after the situation seemed to be spinning out of control last month. The Army brought an uneasy calm, which was shattered after two more youth were killed in police action in Baramulla. The state police, which shares the credit for breaking the back of insurgency, has a strength of 80,000 personnel.