Police-people relations in Kashmir

The word Police in Kashmir has now become synonymous with Terror, Torture, Corruption, Killings and Intimidation

Srinagar: Once a sacred word which upheld the notion of human rights, rule of law and protected life and property, has now become the most hated one in the Valley. During past they were the enforcers of whims of kings and emperors and now are of the State. They were always atrocious on poor Kashmiris: be it the Dogra soldiers or now the State Police and its various agencies.

Since the partition of the subcontinent and valley’s alignment with India, Police and its agencies always played dubious role which made them infamous and hated in the eyes of the masses. From 1947-1953 Police was used to silence the dissident, who wanted either independence or accession to Pakistan. From 1953 the tables turned and yesterday’s rulers became today’s paupers while traitors and police aligned to those at the helm of affairs. Qadir Ganderbali and his Peace Brigade still sends shivers down the spine of dissident Political Activists. After that others took the reins and continued to torture and heap atrocities especially on political dissidents.

After the eruption of armed insurgency, the role of Police became indispensable and we became a witness to induction of renegades (Nabids) in Police which later were re-Christianized as Special Task Force(STF) and then Special Operations Group(SOG) which did the job of killing, torture, rape and arson to its fill and whose acts put even Halaku to shame. For this anti-people and Nazi stance, they were generously awarded by the State and some big guns among them even fought the elections and made it to the assembly like Kuka Parrey while others were awarded Padma Shri like Ghulam Muhammad Mir alias Momma Kanna.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won 2002 elections on the agenda of disbanding the notorious SOG which they did, but the remnants of the same could not be eradicated. With the National Conference (NC) back in power with full support of Centre, the notorious elements in the Police are back once again.

The dubious role of Police came to limelight once again during the Land Row Agitation of 2008 when numerous allegations of Police killings and high handedness were reported from everywhere and it continued in 2009 when the serious allegations of double rape and murder at Shopian were levelled against the Police, who then were allowed to go scot free by the CBI.

Now Police is back in its revived notorious task of picking, killing and torturing the youth thus creating future dissidents and State enemies. The NC led government must understand that, like in the past, repression and brute force has failed to kill the aspirations and sentiments of people and the tactics of state have failed to tame and break the spirit of resistance. Hence instead of Iron Fist, a policy of dialogue, love and peace must be built among the masses and Police which also comprise Kashmiri society. I am afraid that no positive steps have been taken in this direction, instead, the policemen involved in Fake encounters and staged killings of innocent civilians are awarded with Bravery medals and cash prizes thus fuelling the anger more and more and widening the gulf between masses and police.

I am apprehensive of the future civil war which might break out in the valley if this stance of Police repression continues because in a bid to prove more loyal than the king, police is indulging in wanton killing spree of innocent youth which is presently triggering the violent protests and turning the people against them. If the process goes on, the initial step as a reaction from masses would be social boycott of these Ponde-Police (A traditional name when policemen used to accept bribe in the form of a small coin called Ponde) and then they may even be killed by the youth who can’t take much from the hands of Police.

Hence it is the duty of the State and Police to put an end to this fratricide, exercise restraint while dealing with unrest and show by their deeds that they mean welfare of people, only then can normalcy, peace and fraternity return to the valley.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 August 2010 on page no. 8

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