Have individuals grown taller than institutions in J&K?

A look on the ‘far greater nexus’ in Jammu and Kashmir Police
Excelsior Special Correspondent
JAMMU, June 18: Currently surfacing nexus between officials of Jammu and Kashmir Police and the militants of Hizbul Mujahideen is now threatening to cause a dent not only to reputation of senior police officers of the militancy -ravaged State but also to the credibility of law enforcement system. Previously, stories of the police officials offering militants their own residences to hide and vehicles to carry weapons, had dominated media 20 years back. In the year 2006, Government officials found involved in ‘Srinagar Sex Scandal’ included a number of senior and middle-rung officers. Some of them were arrested and prosecuted but many more are still believed to have made good their escape with huge amounts of money paid to the women ‘victims’ and their handlers.
Nobody has, however, taken lid off the ‘far greater nexus’ that has been eating into the vitals of over 100,000-strong police force. This “live-and-let-live” has baffled all and sundry in the State, except the dramatis personae of the “greater nexus” who have been exclusive beneficiaries of the “controlled conflict”. Their numbers have been in dozens or, at the most, in scores. A population of over 10 million has been, on the other hand, at the receiving end of misery.
With varied interpretations, mostly speculative, millions of voices have gone mute for over two decades of bloodshed and violence in Jammu and Kashmir. Cynics have swallowed things like “VVIP treatment” to separatist leaders and release of dreaded killers from jails as “New Delhi’s policy”. Others have been justifying each and every of such nonsense as “constraints of a democratic polity”.
Reality, perhaps, lies in the fact that individuals in the State’s Police, civil administration and politics have grown taller than the institutions. Consequently, a many persons in the system of governance have been free of the burden of all accountability. It may be because of this impunity that many of the police and security officials remain unmoved over exposure of their omissions and commissions in media, filing of an RTI application or a PIL in J&K High Court against them. It is probably for the first time that even the undercover operations are now being publicly owned up by senior police officials despite the fact that there are no Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) in the public domain for such covert actions.
In the process of self-promotion and undercutting the arch rivals, contenders of prize postings have stooped to depravity. Evidently, media too has been taken for a ride as a vehicle to bulldoze opponents. Spine chilling information available with this newspaper illustrates how one particular central agency has been repeatedly cautioning Union Ministry of Defence about the hazards of the misuse of a section of Srinagar-based and New Delhi-based media by J&K Police officials, purely for the purpose of their self-promotion. It is now an open secret that a few of the mediapersons and businessmen too have been instrumental in posting of their patrons and friends in top rungs of police. Recently, a CD in wide circulation in Jammu was much revealing.
Politicians—mainstream as well as separatist— businessmen and journalists have woven their networks of influence. They have been covertly part of the decision making and, in several matters, the institution of Cabinet has been reduced to a rubberstamp. Muzaffar Handoos and Haji Yousufs are unmistakably the creation of this malaise. Their numbers, as also their confidence, have remarkably grown in the last few years. Many of the high profile parties, at homes and weddings are deemed to be incomplete without their presence. Actors in bigger and smaller nexuses rest assured that their skin would be safe, even in the worst of the situations. Examples are galore when not only the officials indulging in corruption and other routine crime but also those wanted in rapes, murders and tax evasion have gone Scot free. JKP’s Maj Avatar Singh, Dy SP Rashid Billa, has not committed suicide.
It is not for nothing that particular blue-eyed boys of senior police officials, bureaucrats and politicians have remained posted without transfer for decades at Police Headquarters, two zonal police headquarters in Kashmir and Jammu as well as Range Headquarters and other important offices. In this situation, frequency of the visits of subordinate officers to the kitchens and bedrooms of senior officers determines the weight of their APRs, promotions and postings rather than their merit on the front of fighting crime and terrorism or investigation of an FIR.
In recent times, we have the example of a constable who has been holding his job safely in J&K Police even after reportedly supplying SIM cards to the Lashkar-e-Toiba militants who struck terror on Mumbai in November 2008. On the other hand, an official charged with managing transfer of three constables for a small amount of money stands dismissed from service. In absence of evidences, the departmental inquiry recommended just freezing of his annual increment. Main actor in the scam-a CID official who was the only one proved guilty—is also continuing comfortably in police service.
From top to bottom of J&K Police, even the engagement of SPOs, and subsequently their regularization in service “on operational grounds”, has grown as an unpardonable crime. Keen observers have unanimity in their judgement that not more than 10% of those regularized “on operational grounds” have ever participated, in any manner, in an intelligence gathering or counter-insurgency operation. It has been observed that thousands of thus fraudulently regularized recruits have been recommended and accommodation simply on cash payment of bribe money running into crores.
Others, by all evidences, happen to be the relatives, family friends and neighbours of different police officers. Just a reality check by an independent inquiry can find in a matter of days that these boys have no knowledge of the “operations” on the basis of which they have been regularized. One of the constables, who has allegedly played key role in the current police-militant nexus, has also entered J&K Police through the same stream of fraud. One would only imagine about the state of affairs in the wings dealing with contracts and supply orders worth more than Rs 200 cr a year. In recent times, an officer of the rank of Additional DGP is witness how she was unceremoniously removed to an insignificant dumping cell when she attempted to streamline the system at Police Headquarters.
Notwithstanding many of the police officers working with hardwork, dedication and integrity, quite a number of others have left no stone unturned in tarnishing the image of J&K Police. Their only security and advantage has been their access to the kitchens and bedrooms of their senior officers who, in turn, have been identically favourites of powerful individuals in New Delhi. So when the non-political beneficiaries of the Kashmir conflict distribute huge amounts of money among stone pelters to attract curfew and massive Chinar trees are felled to clear space for a Rs 100 cr business complex in the backyard of an SP’s office and police station of Kothibagh in Srinagar, it surprises none.
In the incredibly unfolding situation, among many evils of the law enforcement system, it has now become clear that even the nonsense of permitting the Valley’s marginalized separatist leaders to built their fortunes—including shopping malls and hotels— in violation of all existing laws, is also part of the ‘far greater nexus’. Multi-storey commercial complexes are presently coming up at Srinagar, Budgam, Pahalgam and other places with facilitation and connivance of J&K Police and other Government agencies.
With huge security bandobust, houses and officers of the leaders rabidly challenging India’s sovereignty and integrity and attempting every thing to dismantle peace, have assumed the looks of the houses and offices of Cabinet Ministers and top most police officers. In the name of “democratic polity”, there are always fleets of bullet-proof cars and Gypsies, besides armies of uniformed and gun-totting PSOs and escort personnel for the “protection” and comfort of these people, who would have been either in jail or living like ordinary civilians in any other country. Even the followers of these leaders now allege that they were “buying” these VVIP privileges and comforts from senior officials of J&K Police against hefty amounts of money and other quid pro quo.
This is high time that all police-militant, police-criminal and Police-separatist trucks should be broken either by the Chief Minister whose own party has lost over 10,000 cadres in the 23-year-long bloodshed or the Government of India that has been bleeding through nose on account of terrorism since 1980. Being permissive to the governance cancer would only multiply the State’s security concerns.

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