September 2018 News

Governor's Office Intervened To End J&K Kidnap Drama

3 September 2018
The Hindu
Vijaita Singh

New Delhi: The Jammu and Kashmir Governor's office took strong exception to the detention of the father of Hizbul Mujahideen 'commander' Riyaz Naikoo by the local police, which led to a spate of abductions of relatives of policemen in the Kashmir Valley last week. It was on the intervention of senior officials in Governor Satya Pal Malik's office that Naikoo's father Asadullah was released and the impasse over the abduction of 11 relatives of policemen in south Kashmir on August 31 was brought to an end, a top source told The Hindu. A senior government official said that 32 J&K policemen had been killed this year, and most were targeted killings. He said there should be no 'over-reaction' to these kinds of threats as it would trigger more panic, and the government did not want a repeat of the 1990s when Kashmiri Pandits were forced to flee their homes. Jammu and Kashmir has been under Governor's rule since June 20 after the BJP pulled out of an alliance with the PDP. 'The lower ranks of the police are aware of the practical aspects; they have tremendous advantage of language, location and habitation. We cannot isolate and segregate them. This happened in the case of Kashmiri Pandits. After Pandits were attacked, there was panic and most migrated to Jammu and other parts of the country,' he said. The official said Naikoo, now heading the Hizbul, suffered a blow when his deputy and field commander, Altaf Ahmed Dar alias Altaf Kachroo, one of the oldest surviving militants, was killed in an encounter with security forces in Anantnag on August 29. 'Naikoo was under a lot of pressure by the Hizbul leadership to show results. In the meantime the number two Altaf was killed. Naikoo is a nominal head, the real operative was Altaf. It was Altaf who planned the abductions and put out messages to throw acid on people taking part in the panchayat elections, but he was killed the same day. In a vacuum, they require heroes. Naikoo was standing on the shoulders of Altaf. He is badly bruised now,' he said. After Altaf was killed, 11 relatives of policemen were abducted. 'Some elements in the security forces believed that Naikoo's father need not have been picked up. Or if he was detained, he could have been interrogated and released. His father being kept in police custody was another irritant and this led to a series of abductions,' said the official. Another official said militants were feeling the heat as J&K police are at the forefront of the counter-insurgency operations. 'Police reacted in a professional way; there was sufficient pressure on the militants. If they had harmed the relatives, there were other levers workingthey knew it was not a good bargain. They are riled that J&K police are upfront in operations,' said the official. K. Vijay Kumar, Adviser to the J&K Governor told The Hindu that J&K policemen understood the challenges. 'I myself had the feedback of several ranks of police including the constabulary. All of them are standing firm and strong. The professionalism has not come down,' Mr. Kumar said. He said the government was working on an improved package for the policemen. 'Home Minister Rajnath Singh has suggested to the Governor to declare more compensation and better accommodation facilities to boost the morale of the policemen. This is being worked on,' he said.

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