PANIC IN THE RANKS

The mil­i­tants’ strat­egy of tar­get­ing po­lice­men in the Val­ley is tak­ing a toll on the force

India Today - - STATES - By Moazum Mo­ham­mad in Srinagar

The Septem­ber 21 killings of three Jammu & Kash­mir po­lice per­son­nel—Fir­dous Ah­mad Kuchey, Nisar Ah­mad Dhobi and Kul­want Singh— in Shopian dis­trict have set off a wave of panic in the Val­ley. The govern­ment and se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment tried to down­play it, but there has been a flood of res­ig­na­tions, par­tic­u­larly among the low­est ranks of the force.

Co­or­di­nated ap­par­ently by Hizbul Mu­jahideen com­man­der Riyaz Naikoo, po­lice of­fi­cials say some two dozen mil­i­tants car­ried out the pre-dawn strikes in Bata­gund and Kapran vil­lages. In a re­play of ear­lier cop killings in south Kash­mir, the po­lice­men were taken from their homes at gun­point and shot at point­blank range. The vic­tims in­clude the bread­win­ner of the only Ra­jput fam­ily that had stayed on after the ex­o­dus of Hin­dus from the Val­ley in the 1990s.

Just days ear­lier, Naikoo, who was re­cently re­spon­si­ble for the ab­duc­tion of a num­ber of po­lice­men’s fam­ily mem­bers, had is­sued an ul­ti­ma­tum or­der­ing SPOs (spe­cial po­lice of­fi­cers) to quit or face death. De­scrib­ing them as “silent killers be­ing used by In­dia against the [Kash­miri] free­dom strug­gle” in a Face­book post, he ac­cused them of tip­ping off se­cu­rity forces about mil­i­tant move­ments and hide­outs in the hin­ter­land. Posters bear­ing a sim­i­lar warn­ing also ap­peared at a

COL­LAT­ERAL DAM­AGEA po­lice of­fi­cer lays flo­ral wreaths on the coffins of the slain po­lice­men, Shopian, Sept. 21

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