January 2020 News

L-G Shifts Power Centre In Kashmir, Creates Rift In Security Ranks

25 January 2020
India Today
Kamaljit Kaur Sandhu

New Delhi: A recent government order, concentrating power in the hands of Lt Governor's GC Murmu's advisor RR Bhatnagar, has upset many officials in Jammu and Kashmir Police. On January 15, an order passed by Lt Governor GC Murmu gave sweeping powers to his newly appointed advisor Bhatnagar over security related matters in Jammu and Kashmir. In a rather controversial move Bhatnagar has been given exclusive rights over transfer of officials from the rank of station house officers (SHO). The order issued by the home department says that Bhatnagar would also oversee deployment of para-military forces and armed units of Jammu and Kashmir Police for 'optimum effect'. He will be deciding on ground-level postings in consultation with senior security advisor in home ministry, K Vijay Kumar. Kumar spent 11 months in the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir state as an adviser to former Governor Satyapal Malik before being moved to Delhi and made an adviser of Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Kumar a 1975-batch Tamil Nadu IPS officer moved to Delhi as sources said he was reluctant to serve under GC Murmu, 10 years junior to him. Murmu, 1985-batch IAS officer from Gujarat cadre is the LG of UT. Vijay Kumar had then said that his role as adviser was coterminous with Governor Satyapal Malik who was moved to Goa soon after Centre's decision to abrogate Article 370. A former DG of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Bhatnagar, a 1983-batch IPS officer hasn't served in Jammu and Kashmir but led CRPF for two years. He was made an adviser of the Lt Governor after his retirement on December 31, 2019. advertisement Many feel Bhatnagar, despite heading CRPF, has no experience in counter-terror operation in J&K. Bhatnagar was also DG at the time of Pulwama terror strike on February 14, 2019 in which 40 CRPF men were killed. Many officials of the J&K Police say it is a 'bad order' and out of tune with the security dynamics in J&K. Sources say Bhatnagar himself is not so pleased with the powers bestowed on him. According to sources he has told some officials that the process should have been thought through. In the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir the postings of police officials came under the domain of the DGP. The transfers for SP rank officers and above were done in consultation with the home department. Sources said the latest order is not specific to DG but to the office of the DGP. An IPS officer in counter-terror operation said there is a worry that 'there is no clarity on who would be responsible for police postings hereon'. Another officer said, 'If not for power which is shared by officers from outside the state now, there are too many cooks on the top, each wanting to have their way.' Sources say that senior police officials in J&K are disappointed with the order that gives K Vijay Kumar unbridled powers to manage transfers and other affairs of the police officials in Jammu and Kashmir. 'It is unprecedented and will cause lot of distress within the police force on the ground,' one source said. It is, however, learnt from sources that the one reason for giving Kumar sweeping powers is due to 'performance deficit' of police officials at top level after the abrogation of Article 370. The second reason was the centre wanting to keep key when it comes to security affairs of J&K. Not withstanding the largely unexpected peaceful run for past six months in Kashmir Valley. Many within the force believe that certain segment of powerful IAS lobby is throwing its weight without factoring in sacrifices made by J&K Police. 'There is a sense of disappointment in rank and file,' an official said. 'We are at forefront of fight against militancy; such orders clearly don't go down well.' The order has been followed by another letter with directions handing over the internal security of Jammu and Sringar airport to Central Industrial Security Force (CISF). Though the decision was in the pipeline for the past one year, the letter mentions about the disgraced DSP Davinder Singh's role in sheltering terrorists and facilitating their escape from Jammu. DSP Davinder Singh who was posted as part of anti-hijacking unit was on January 11 caught transporting two Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist and an overground worker to Jammu. Analysts say it is a classic case of rift between the IPS and the IAS officers. Chief secretary BVR Subramanyam was handpicked by PM Modi and GC Murmu was also his choice. advertisement 'A power struggle among top ranking officials is not a good at a time when the J&K Police is faced with multiple challenges, tackling militancy and dealing with law and order,' a senior police official told India Today.