Kashmir’s unfortunate policemen

Their families are our families, and as a Kashmiri society their loss is our collective loss
Kashmir’s unfortunate policemen
File Photo: Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

After a lull of nearly three years, policemen of Kashmir valley have once again come under attack of militants. Last few days have seen death of as many as five Kashmiri policemen, in militant attacks, and more than dozen have been seriously injured. The most daring attack took place on Monday in which three policemen were killed and 14 injured after militants attacked a bus carrying them.

This happened when reportedly, three militants fired indiscriminately on the bus carrying security forces near a police camp in Zewan near Srinagar city. The attack happened when the policemen of the 9th battalion of Jammu & Kashmir Indian Reserve Police Battalion were returning to their campus in Zewan’s Pantha Chowk area. Three militants including two Pakistanis were responsible for the attack, and are believed to have fled towards Pampore and Tral in South Kashmir.

Two of the policemen – assistant sub inspector Ghulam Hassan and constable Shafique Ali died the very same day, a third constable Rameez Ahmad Baba from Ganderbal succumbed to his injuries the next day. The attack is believed to have been carried out by “Kashmir Tigers”, a new militant outfit, which is believed to be an offshoot of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). JeM is incidentally a Pakistan based terrorist group that has been designated as a terror organization by India and the United Nations as well as the UK and the US. It has previously claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing on 14 February 2019 in Kashmir in which our at least 46 soldiers had died. Terrorists attacked the police bus after the Road Opening Party that secures roads through which convoy pass during a particular time of a day, withdrew from the areas. The area was dark and the militants took advantage of that. Prior to this, two policemen, SGCT Mohammad Sultan and CT Fayaz Ahmad were killed by militants in Gulshan Chowk area of Bandipora.

These ominous killings of Kashmiri policemen by militants once again bring forth consistent issue of the killings of Kashmiri policemen, which, out of fear, is rarely discussed in open but it impacts most of us directly, which shows our hypocrisy as a Kashmiri society. To begin with, all five Kashmiri policemen who were killed were Muslims. While one belonged to Reasi of Jammu region and another was from Ramban, rest three of them were Kashmiri Muslims from different parts of Kashmir valley. Kashmiri policemen are thus part and parcel of Kashmiri Muslim society and impact of their killings does’t happen in isolation. These policemen have families and friends, who also come from the same Kashmiri Muslim society. Kashmir valley is not a large place and it is common to have different members of the same family holding different ideologies and loss of even single Kashmiri ends up becoming a collective societal loss, whether or not we talk about it openly.

However, unfortunately, as a Kashmiri society, we tend to collectively show no remorse or empathy with any killing of our own Kashmiri Muslim policemen and instead we call them “traitors”. This is nothing but sheer hypocrisy. Kashmiri Muslim members of Jammu & Kashmir police are our own flesh and blood and part of our society. They follow the same religion, and speak the same language as us. They are only doing their job and profession, which has no relation with any kind of ideological inclinations. By targeting them, we only end up vilifying, demonizing and alienating a large section of our own society. It is also important to add that out of three militants who attacked the police bus, two were from Pakistan (called “foreign militants”). This has been the pattern seen in most militant killings of Kashmiri policemen, where more often than not, it is Pakistani militants who are mostly involved rather than Kashmiri militants. It is obvious that Pakistani militants, most of whom are from Pakistani Punjab have less affinity towards Kashmiri people as compared to Kashmiri militants. It is really unfortunate that Pakistan has pushed Kashmiri people in such a pathetic situation where a Kashmiri Muslim has been brainwashed to kill another fellow Kashmiri Muslim.

Cowardly killing of Kashmiri policemen is neither going to stop Kashmiri people continuing to join Jammu and Kashmir police, nor will it achieve any goal of shaking the might of the State. It will only leave behind shattered families, widows and orphans. Killing fellow Kashmiri policemen is like self-inflicting injury as they live among us and are part of us. Their loss is loss of Kashmir and not the loss of Pakistan or Punjabi Muslims of Pakistani army and ISI, who control terrorist organizations operating in Kashmir valley. Furthermore, we as a Kashmiri society must also change our hypocritical attitude towards killings of our Kashmiri policemen. We must resist from lionizing and celebrating killings of our Kashmiri police men and women, and stop using derogatory terms for them. Unfortunately, our own conduct and behavior towards our own Kashmiri Muslim police force creates a negative and hateful image amongst more gullible sections of Kashmiri society. Furthermore, it also impacts families of these policemen and many times entire villages or localities. We cannot afford to stigmatize such a large section of our population.

Policing is a necessary institution of modern-day governance and administration. It is not linked to adherence or support of any political ideology. It is wrong to treat them as political symbol of an ideology, which has to be violently confronted. Any killing or bodily injury to members of our Kashmiri police force is like hurting ourselves. The wounds of such self-inflicted injuries are graver, deeper, long lasting and more deadly as it divides the society, creates fissures and creates such deep divisions, which will only weaken us as Kashmiri society, and will render us even more vulnerable to further violence, chaos and misery. Kashmiri policemen are our own people. Their families are our families and their loss is our collective loss as a Kashmiri society and therefore we must be concerned towards such ghastly killings of our own brethren.

Javed Beigh is General Secretary People's Democratic Front (Secular ).

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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