BLUNT BUTCHER/ ANCHOR
If reports, especially those beamed over national television channels during the past two days, about terrorists carrying out recce for ten months before attacking Sunjwan Army Camp, are to be believed, the Jammu and Kashmir will have to make lot of explaining. It is the same police that successive governments in Srinagar wanted to replace the armed and para-military forces to counter and tackle Pak-sponsored terrorism.
The advocates of repealing the Armed Forces Special Powers Act continue to put-forth the argument that Jammu and Kashmir Police was well poised to meet the terror challenge. But incidents after incident prove them wrong. The Sunjwan attack is the latest example of police and local intelligence failure that allowed terrorists move around sensitive installations in the winter capital without being detected. They ought to have been ready with the dossiers as to who these terrorists met and who provided them moral and material support. The police should also have gathered the intelligence about terror sympathisers, who helped the JeM terrorists responsible for Sunjwan attack. They could have been involved in Nagrota Army Attack case also. How will the police explain its failure?
The army, which is supposed to guard the frontiers of the nation, and come to the rescue of the civil administration in extra-ordinary security situations or calamities, is not expected to keep vigil against goons, criminals and of course anti-national elements roaming in the civilian areas. It is job of the police, which has adequate manpower and abundant resources to keep track of unwanted elements. With evidence and reports of terrorists making rounds in cities and towns of the terrorism infested State, the police is supposed to be agile and assertive. But it has not been. It can be seen pursuing soft and lucrative pursuits rather than taking on the enemies of the nation.
The intelligence gathering in the winter capital assumes added significance in the wake of Darbar Move offices shifting here from Srinagar. These are the months when terrorists can move around freely, taking advantage of the presence of a sizable population from the Valley. The terror elements can easily mingle and get lost in the crowds. But the intelligence agencies have always looked to the other side, primarily to keep a particular segment of politicians happy. The police ought to have taken cognisance of large scale acts of land-grabbing, particularly in immediate peripheries of the army installations. Going round the Sunjwan Army Station, numerous unauthorised colonies can be noticed; germinating from the lands grabbed or encroached upon under political patronage. These habitations have become breeding ground for anti-national elements, who can get lost in the guise of civilians.
In the instant case of Sunjwan Army Station, if the attackers had been conducting recce during the past ten
months, they would have established some meeting point or hide-out. They would not have been coming all the way from the Valley or from across the borders; they must have stayed in the immediate vicinity of the station. And, if so, why police remained clueless? Has the premier law enforcing agency of the State surrendered its role and authority to the political bosses to enjoy ‘continued loaves of power’? Unfortunately, the answer appears to be in affirmative.
That the Jammu and Kashmir Police is working as per whims and fancies of the political bosses holds true by the fact that it preferred to register FIR against the Army in Shopian stone-pelting incident rather than the perpetrators of the attack on armed forces convoy. The Supreme Court is seized of the matter and therefore there is little scope to comment over the role of police, which faltered, erred and deliberately implicated the army.
The Supreme Court has rightly restrained the Jammu and Kashmir Police from taking any “coercive steps” against Army officers including Major Aditya Kumar, who have been made an accused in the Shopian firing case. The father of Major Aditya has sought directions for guidelines to protect the rights of soldiers and adequate compensation so that no Army personnel is harassed by initiation of criminal proceedings for bonafide actions in exercise of their duties. He has also sought registration of FIR against people involved in terrorist activities which had caused damage to property of the government. Besides the father of Major Aditya, the kin of armed forces working in Kashmir have also approached the National Human Rights Commission for safeguarding the rights of soldiers, who are becoming target of hostile crowds and stone pelters on daily basis. The stone pelters are emboldened because the police has been showing laxity towards them. They are reportedly seldom booked for attacking the army, which is unprecedented or may be due to political interference. As far as the current FIR is concerned, the police will have to explain as to what was the outcome of the investigations in the case pertaining to tying of a stone-pelter with the bonnet of a jeep by troops headed by Major Leetul Gogoi. Despite ten months, the police has not been able to withdraw the case notwithstanding the army decorating Gogoi and huge appreciations to the officer from all those who matter in power corridors at Delhi.
The interim direction to Jammu and Kashmir government by the Apex court is a sad reflection on the police, which did register a case against the army but its chief preferred to mislead the public opinion about the contents of the FIR.
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