Fear grips families of policemen in southern Kashmir districts

The family members and relatives of the policemen said they were living in a “state of fear”.

IRFAN AMIN MALIK
Srinagar, Publish Date: Sep 13 2018 12:56AM | Updated Date: Sep 13 2018 2:45AM
Fear grips families of policemen in southern Kashmir districtsRepresentational Pic

“I used to go home every September for apple harvesting. But this season I could not because of the fear. I sold out the entire crop to my neighbour to avoid home going,” a police constable from Imamsahib area in southern Shopian district said on condition of anonymity. 

The situation, he said, is pretty scary now for the families of policeman in southern Kashmir. “There was no such fear some ten years ago, but now we cannot enter into our homes as we fear we may become the target of militants.”

Many policemen have curtailed their family visits because of recent killings, abductions and attacks on cops. “The sense of insecurity has increased after the gunmen abducted 11 relatives of policemen in Tral, Pulwama, Anantnag, Shopian and Kulgam districts last month.”

The family members and relatives of the policemen said they were living in a “state of fear”. 

“Some of the families are now planning to move to Srinagar for their safety,” said a young boy of Tral village whose father is working in police department.

A constable from Goungoo Pulwama who had come on vacation said: “No doubt there is fear but how can I leave my job when I have my wife, children and old aged parents. I am in service for 20 years. I have never faced this situation before. My daughter is about to get married and my old aged parents are diabetic who need medicines every day.”

An SPO of Syedabad village in Tral, who did not wish to be named, said he had resigned from the service after “militants provided 15 days’ deadline for all the SPOs to resign from their service”.

“I resigned from the service yet I was fired at by unknown gunmen near my house on 7 August. I was badly injured and remained admitted in the hospital for 15 days,” he said.

The SPO said he will resume studies that he had left at under-graduate level. “I am planning to resume my studies to get a good job. I am the only son of my parents. My father is handicapped and my mom is housewife,” the SPO said.

According to reliable source, scores of SPOs have left their job and returned home in various southern districts of Kashmir. These SPOs have either announced their resignations in local masjids or have simply stayed home to indicate they have quit jobs. 

In the Midoora hamlet of Tral, unknown gunmen last month barged into the residence of a local SPO and ransacked his house. From the neighborhood another SPO was abducted and released the next day.

Next day, in the same village, government forces allegedly resorted to ransacking and thrashing of kin of militants. “Bed-ridden brother of a local militant Mudasir Khan was harassed,” his kin said.

An SPO on condition of anonymity said: “Despite all these incidents, there is amicable atmosphere in the southern villages. People are living in a cordial environment and there is no sign of any prejudice and hate between militant families and police families.”

He said the “the battle is between militants and the government forces. The families are simply sandwiched.”

Last month a group of masked gunmen entered into the residence of a station house officer in Anantnag district but he was not home. “I do not know why militants had come to my house. I am a simple police officer entrusted with the duty to ensure law and order in the areas under my jurisdiction. This act by the gunmen has stunned me. I am hesitating to go home and meet my family.”

This reporter tried to meet an SPO who was abducted by gunmen and released after a day in Chankitar village of Pulwama district last month, but the family did not want to have interview. “Neither my son nor any family member can speak to media. We are literally living on the edge of a sword,” said a man introducing himself as father of released SPO.

Wife of an abducted ‘SPO’ (who was later released) from Midoora Tral namely Mughli, said since her husband was abducted by the militants her prolonged neurological condition has worsened. She said her left arm was relentlessly shaking and she was unable to come out from the ordeal. 

Mughli said it was for the first time her family was targeted. “The truth is that my husband Ghulam Hassan Mir is working as a cook in the police training academy.” She said.

Mughli’s elder son Mushtaq Ahmad Mir who runs a local Khidmat Centre said that things have changed during last five years. “The ongoing tussle between militants and government forces has worsened the situation completely. I now reach home before evening prayers. Earlier, it didn't matter," he said.

State’s director general of police and deputy inspector general of police south Kashmir did not answer the repeated calls from this reporter.

However a top police officer currently posted in southern Kashmir said that police department “is taking adequate measures for the safety of policemen and their families. The initial step was to curtail the vacations of the policemen.”

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