‘1 lakh policemen and their families constitute 25 per cent of the society’

Munir Ahmad Khan, Indian police service offiMuneer Khan (5)cer of 1994 batch took over as inspector general of police, Kashmir zone. Khan is a highly decorated officer in J&K police and has held many important postings including SSP Srinagar, SSP Baramulla, SSP Anantnag and SSP Doda. After his promotion as DIG, the officer was posted as DIG South Kashmir Range, DIG Central Kashmir Range and DIG North Kashmir Range. As IGP, he has served as IGP Crime J&K, IGP Traffic J&K and director Vigilance Organization before being posted as IGP Kashmir Zone. At a time when militants have made job of policemen difficult in Kashmir, the state government has entrusted an experienced policeman Munir Khan with the responsibility to bring situation back to normal. Known for his astute policing, all eyes are on him as how he is going to tackle the present challenging situation.

In this interview with the Kashmir Magazine’s Executive Editor, Mir Farhat, the IGP talks about the present challenges police is facing and how the police is going to deal with it.

  1. How is the present situation and how is police dealing with it?
  2. It has been more than a month when I took over as IGP. First, I analysed the situation, found out what should be the priorities, and what the difficult areas are. And as per the situation line of action is planned and then action begins.

The situation is difficult and different than previous years. Different, because law and order-pelting, protesting, disruption during anti-militancy operations- is militant driven. When we operated in Yaripora, Kulgam, militants came from the side of the crowd and fired; they used civilians as human shield. If the security forces would not have restrained, a huge loss of life would have occurred. We faced law and order throughout that day and killed three militants and only one civilian casualty took place despite huge disruptions. This is the kind of different and difficult situation. These disruptions are started by militants to help the trapped militants escape.

To deal with any new situation, you face difficulties initially. But then you analyse it and form a set drill. Today, our drills are set. Whether we face law and order situation or not, anti-militancy operations will continue.

  1. How does police see the present militancy in Kashmir?
  2. This is a new phase which is militant driven. It will be over, gradually, when the number of militants will be reduced and neutralized. This phase, too, will fizzle out.
  3. Q. Today, the militants have public support. Is this a new challenge before police?
  4. I do not agree that militants have public support. When you talk of the people, who are you talking about? Are you talking about common people, trader, an employee, a student interested in his studies or a law abiding citizen? You are talking about a particular element who we call a miscreant. Militants use these miscreants and create such situations. With public support and police being in contact with the people, these miscreants are being identified. Police cannot do its job alone without public support because police is a part of the same society. Police’s success is in maintaining its contact with police. So, you might be seeing the police-public meetings; civic and counselling programmes which are primarily aimed at maintaining the contact with public.
  5. Q. Social media is now being used by militants for uploading their videos and photos. What policy does police have for such things?
  6. A. It (videos and photos) by militants has become a social media menace. And these videos and photos are either doctored or photo-shopped, and most of the times they are fake. All this is done to provoke people to create unrest. As for the policy to curb this menace, police is taking measures and very soon these things will come down from the screens.
  7. Q. Off late, police is becoming the target of militants. A number of fatal attacks have been carried out on policemen in the valley.
  8. Police has been doing anti-militancy activities since 90s. Our job is mutli-tasking: maintaining law and order, anti-militancy, prevention and detection of crime, VIP security; you name anything police is there. When people pray Eid nimaaz, police guards the worshippers at the Eidgahs. Police has been the target of militants since 90s. It is not happening for the first time. Our boys have been martyred in the line of duty a number of times. Jammu and Kashmir police has suffered several setback, but it overcomes these setbacks and gains the ground.
  9. What is the status of the investigation in lynching to death of DSP Muhammad Ayoub Pandit?
  10. Investigation is being carried out and it progress is quite good. The real culprits have been identified and many of them have been taken into custody and are being questioned. I am sure it will be brought to logical conclusion with whole lot of evidence and the culprits will be dealt with justice.
  11. Why was there no clarity from police about the identity of the DSP when he was lynched to death? Many stories were floated till the morning about the identity.
  12. DSP was killed at midnight of Shab-e-Qadr and he was badly hurt and rather I would say defaced as he was subjected to severe violence. So, initially nobody could make who he was. Unless there was proper verification, nobody could have said anything about his identify. When the DSP Sahab did not reach home at Sehri, questions were raised about him, and unfortunately he was the guy.
  13. Local police station did not know that such an grave incident has happened in their jurisdiction?
  14. Off course, they knew; that is why they retrieved his dead body and took him to Rainawari hospital but that time he was no more.
  15. What was the reaction of the people in Kashmir to the lynching incident?
  16. There was huge condemnation to the lynching because a Kashmiri, a conscious Kashmiri, will never tolerate this indiscipline, indecency and arrogance be that from any side, either from us or from anybody. Such murderous thinking is not in the blood of a Kashmir. Kashmiri is very conscious, civilized, wise and emotional kind of person. He will tolerate this.
  17. Police is dealing with militancy and at the same time what government calls “radicalisation” of youth. How is the latter being tackled?
  18. Police is first trying to identify, and has in many cases identified, the source of radicalisation. Who are the persons who indulge in all this? Then what are the corrective measures to be taken because radicalisation is targeted to a particular age group and teens. You cannot radicalize a person of my age. These teens are being indoctrinated with all the nonsense. The methods to de-radicalise these young boys is counselling, community policing, parenting, educate them in educational institutions; those are the sources where we can go and set things right.
  19. Amarnath yatra is ongoing and what are the security arrangements that have been taken as reportedly police issued an advisory about some threat?
  20. Let me clear there was no advisory as such. It was a piece of raw (kachaa) intelligence report which got viral on Whats App and was blown out by media. It was to be developed and verified. Every year, when Amarnath Yatra starts we get a lot of inputs and lot of intelligence reports and we are supposed to make proper arrangements. And all the arrangements have been made for peaceful and smooth conduct of Yatra and are in place. Review of arrangements have been made by me, DIG and SSPs. Till now, we are satisfied that arrangements are upto the mark. We are hopeful that we will be able to manage yatra peacefully.
  21. On Eid, police has issued an advisory to its men no to pray in local mosques….
  22. Again misquoted, again misrepresented…. Just as parents advise their children not to go outside and take caution during an untoward incident, police too advised its boys to be alert and cautious. What is the harm in that? Do you say I asked them not to pray? I will not let my boys get killed like sitting ducks. I will not advise them to go to a mosque and give a chance to militants to get killed. 95 percent of the killings of policemen have happened while coming out of the mosque after offering prayers or going inside for prayers. I cannot afford that.
  23. Policemen are being killed by militants, and it is being feared that a social wedge will be created?
  24. That is for the society and civil society to think. Unfortunately, you don’t think police is from the same society. One lakh policemen multiplied by their families constitute 25 per cent of the society.
  25. Hurriyat leaders always blame police for turning the Jammu and Kashmir into a “police state”. They claim police is thrashing, detaining people without any charge?
  26. A. If Hurriyat speaks good about police, then who will call them Hurriyat; it will not remain Hurriyat. They have their own agenda which they have to stick to. We don’t have any complaints about them.
  27. What is the state of infrastructure and facilities being provided to the police? There are lots of complaints about the condition of police stations?
  28. The endeavour of the police headquarters and higher ups is to provide best facilities to the subordinate formations. Some things take time to improve. The best of the resources are always provided to the policemen; be it protective gear, weaponry, vehicles, even residential accommodation. The things are in the pipeline and once they arrive that will be provided to the policemen. There is a scheme called modernization of police and under that scheme there is a lot of improvement. Since 90s a lot of modernization and improvement has taken place.
  29. What are the challenges areas ahead for the police?
  30. Challenges before police are many. Channelising youth in a positive direction, towards creativity, getting them out of the menace of radicalisation, which is a very big challenge; education without disruptions because now separatists have involved students and are ruining their future. Now (protest) calendars are coming from across as if the separatists here did not know how to this job.

It is regrettable that our place, our people are being destroyed. A Kashmiri gets killed, a Kashmiri is looted, education of a Kashmiri is getting hit, a Kashmiri is facing all this. Who is benefitting out of this? It is a Kashmiri who is at the ruins.

  1. You are saying police is everywhere, from solving family quarrels to conflict. Does not police face manpower shortage to deal with all this?
  2. Yes, there is shortage of manpower but still police successfully doing its job. As I said we have to do multitasking, maintaining law and order, security, anti-militancy, and other crime prevention.

But, gradually, manpower is being increased. Recruitment drives are being carried out for constables, sub inspectors and also for Prosecuting Officers. Police is the biggest source of employment generating department. One individual employee means a family and four members. Let’s not see only the negative side, let’s see the positive side also.

  1. Is police reviewing the security of Hurriyat?
  2. The security of Hurriyat will be reviewed, especially after the lynching to death of the DSP in Nowhatta. After review a conscious decision will be taken. What was the mistake of the DSP? He was there for security of the people and worshippers.

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