A profile of the Jammu & Kashmir police

Y I Patel
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A profile of the Jammu & Kashmir police

Postby Y I Patel » 21 Feb 2001 04:51

My attempt. Lost all the URL references. Sorry 'bout that <img src="http://www.bharat-rakshak.com/ubb/frown.gif" alt="" />

Hope this post sheds some light on a highly underrated force.

This is a profile of the Jammu and Kashmir Police force. It is very
difficult to separate the truth from the propaganda, since the J&K police
have a highly ambiguous record, and reporting about their actions is heavily
politicised. For example, the J&K police did the painstaking spadework
that led to the capture of LET terrorsts responsible for the
Chattisingpora massacare. However, the capture was made by the
Maharashtra police from the Muslim-dominated Thane suburb of Mumbra, and
political compulsions ment that incident was played up as a LET threat
to Bal Thackeray. This article tries to shed some
light on this vital and unacknowledged force.

At the begining of the insurgency in the late eighties, the police force
did play a role in gathering intelligence about the growing restlessness
among the local population, but a prejudiced attitude of the security
establishment, combined with
a deliberate and targeted drive by militants, led to the marginalization and
degeneration of the state police force. The state police were found
guilty in several instances of abetting terrorists, and they were involved
in a series of actions against the army, notably in 1990 and 1993. In
January 1990, the J&K Armed Police exchanged fire with the army at the
Police Control Room in Srinagar . The April 1993 event marked the
nadir in the history of J&K Police. The police revolted in reaction to
the death of one of their colleagues in army custody. Bands of armed
policemen roamed the streets of Srinagar and even took a senior police
officer as hostage. The revolt ended when security forces stormed the
police headquarters and disarmed the revolting policemen.

However, as the insurgency dragged on without any sign of abating, the
realization began to dawn that the security forces could not control the
situation without assistance from the local police, especially in
matters of local intelligence collection. Praveen Swamy, a journalist
for the Frontline Magazine and a very knowledgeable source on J&K,
reports that the first signs of change began to appear in 1994. Farooq Khan,
a J&K police officer, convinced the then DGP J&K MN Sabharwal and the
ADGP Rajinder Tikkoo to initiate an experiment with a small operations group
in Srinagar, the first such police formation in Jammu and Kashmir. This
small group was the predecessor of the crack Special Operations Group
of the J&K police, and it soon started showing remarkable results. The SOG
scored its first success in a joint operation with the army, when it
killed three terrorists in October 1994 at Koil Muqam and Malangam.
The Srinagar group also played a vital role in the resolution of the
Hazrat Bal seige in 1996.

The J&K assembly elections in 1996 were held with the aquiescence as
well as participation of several reformed militants, and the changed
political climate after the elections facilitated a series of reforms
that would slowly revive the moribund police force. But more than
anything else, the revival can be attributed to the policies initiated by one
man - Gurbachan Singh Jagat. Jagat was appointed as the DGP in February of
1997. He is an IPS officer of the Punjab Cadre, and was commissioned in
1966. He learnt is counterinsurgency ropes as a subordinate of the famous KPS
Gill in Punjab. The transformation was brought about slowly and
painfully, through a series of reforms. Some of the notable reforms
that Jagat introduced were:

* The morale of the force was lifted by a series of personnel polices
such as on the spot recruitment and promotion policies to circumvent
corruption among the local politicians, provision of generous
compensation packages to families of martyred policemen, and provision
of better accomodation facilities. Recruitment was stepped up for
communities such as the Gujjars,
which were ignored by previous political dispensations.

* Steps were taken to modernise the police force
with special priority on providing better communication,
and transport facilities to the police personnel. While only
superintendents had personal vehicles before, every police station has
its own vehicle now for responding to calls. Policemen were supplied
with protective eqipment and weapons on par with the army as well.
Internet was used to connect district SSPs with the police headquarters,
and the police telecom system was upgraded.

* Force levels were boosted significantly - the J&K Police increased
from 38,000 in 1996 to about 70,000 in 1999. Several new police posts
were added in disturbed areas such as Rajauri, Poonch and Doda.

* Police CI tactics were revised as well. Security operations were made
more pro-active, and police patrols went after militants instead of
merely passively guarding fixed locations. Special attention was paid
towards recruiting reformed militants as informers. Several militants
were also recruited as special police officers (SPOs), but this scheme ran into
problems when the undisciplined SPOs committed excesses. SPOs are still
recruited, but now the thrust is on recruiting retired policemen and
servicemen from the area.

The definitive acknowledgement of the transformation in the police force
comes from the terrorists, who have now made police forces one of
their prime targets. The increasing competence of the police has permitted
the army to slowly disengage itself from internal duties. This trend
was very prominent before the Kargil intrusion, when almost two brigades
worth of army personnel were deinducted from J&K.

The revival has been slow, and not without its share of controversies.
The J&K police continue to be looked upon with suspicion, and as
recently as 2000, some police personnel were suspected to be involved in
the terrorist raid on the Rashtriya Rifles camp at Beerwah. Pilgrims
and volunteers for the Amarnath yatras still complain about the
high-handed and corrupt ways of the local police. And international
organizations continue to allege that the local police forces are among
the worst human rights violators. But there has been an unmistakable
change for the better in the J&K police morale and efficiency.

The J&K police force is undergoing its biggest test right now. The
declaration of a unilateral ceasefire places and additional onus on
intelligence collection and law enforcement, and this is a job for the
local police. It should be noted that while army soldiers fired at
protesting locals, no such incidents involving the police have surfaced
so far, even though the police have been at the forefront of battling
the protestors as well as suicide squads.

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Re: A profile of the Jammu & Kashmir police

Postby shiv » 21 Feb 2001 07:57

Thanks for the informative effort Vikram. In our discussions of gun barrels, missiles and delta wings we tend to leave the ground and miss what's going on there.<P>Good work.

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Re: A profile of the Jammu & Kashmir police

Postby Sunil » 21 Feb 2001 10:59

Excellent piece on the SOG. <P>> However, as the insurgency dragged on without any sign of abating, the<BR>realization began to dawn that the security forces could not control the situation without assistance from the local police, especially in matters of local intelligence collection.<P>I guess the idea was to focus it on the SOG, but the article does not shed light yet another unsung and yet important bunch that operate parallel to the J&K SOG... the agents of Counter Intelligence Kashmir (CIK). <P>

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Re: A profile of the Jammu & Kashmir police

Postby Krishna » 21 Feb 2001 11:24

Sunil <P>This is the first time I have heard of "Counter Intelligence Kashmir". I am assuming that they are a separate organisation formed specifically for CI against the terrorists in Kashmir. Could you please post some web sites that give information about this organisation.<P>Thanks in advance.

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Re: A profile of the Jammu & Kashmir police

Postby Peeyoosh » 21 Feb 2001 11:55

Great stuff - any thoughts of sending it for publishing?

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Re: A profile of the Jammu & Kashmir police

Postby Sunil » 21 Feb 2001 14:19

CIK is a separate agency. I don't know who it reports to. <BR>It was set up sometime in 1992-4. The idea behind it was to create more coordination between the interrogation teams and to ensure the following; (guesswork from the various articles read over the last 10 years). <P>1) everybody got a look at the suspects. <BR>2) the same suspect didn't end up being picked up twice and also didn't end up giving different stories to different agencies. (apparently that is an all too common experience). <P>The CIK picks up (pre-processed) suspects from the various temporary detention centers, and then moves them to a Joint Interrogation Centre like Kot Bhalwal or Papa II. There joint teams from army police etc... carry out the interrogation. The more interesting suspects are sent to the Red Fort Centre in New Delhi.<P>There is no website that offers info about this low-profile body, HR orgs and Pakistani sites never cease to demonize the CIK, and their websites are the only source of info on this. So the way to collate info about this, is to carry out word searches on google/hotbot/lycos etc... and then trawl through content of pakistani and HR org sites and pick and choose.. (half the stuff there is hyperbole.. and this work is a major headache sorting through that stuff.)<P>which reminds me.. i seem to have misplaced my list of JICs in J&K... that's bad.. it'll take a good while to put that together again.. sh*t.

Y I Patel
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Joined: 01 Jan 1970 05:30

Re: A profile of the Jammu & Kashmir police

Postby Y I Patel » 21 Feb 2001 20:38

Thank you all for your feedback. This article was conceived a few months ago in a conversation with Rupak, and it is intended as an article in BRM. I realise it is still very rough, and needs some more work. But I thought that I should go ahead and post it anyway, to see what you guys think. <P>Sunil, I am focusing on J&K Police, which is why CIK does not figure. You may have noticed that I do not talk much about the village defence councils either. Helps keep the article doable for me.<P>There is an excellent article by Praveen Swamy on the SOG in a 1998 online issue of the Frontline mag. I lost the URL, but it should be easily searchable through google.<P>Vikram

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Re: A profile of the Jammu & Kashmir police

Postby dsandhu » 21 Feb 2001 21:48

some thing related but not directly<P>Punjab Police not to send me in for J & K elections<BR> <A HREF="http://www.tribuneindia.com/20010221/punjab1.htm#5" TARGET=_blank>http://www.tribuneindia.com/20010221/punjab1.htm#5</A> <P>Jai HO!<BR>

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Re: A profile of the Jammu & Kashmir police

Postby svinayak » 21 Feb 2001 22:57

<BR> <A HREF="http://in.news.yahoo.com/010220/32/kmue.html" TARGET=_blank>http://in.news.yahoo.com/010220/32/kmue.html</A> <P> Militants work their way into people's hearts <P> February 20:AFTER consolidating their armoury and position, the<BR> militants in<BR> Kashmir are now directing their efforts at moulding the public<BR> opinion. This is<BR> evident the way the people are now hailing even foreign militant<BR> groups such as the<BR> Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and Jaish-e-Mohammad.<BR>

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Re: A profile of the Jammu & Kashmir police

Postby Sunil » 26 Feb 2001 23:20

<A HREF="http://www.hindustantimes.com/nonfram/260201/detNAT52.asp" TARGET=_blank>http://www.hindustantimes.com/nonfram/260201/detNAT52.asp</A> <P>Kashmir’s Dirty Harrys <BR>Vishal Thapar and Rashid Ahmad <BR>(Jammu/ Srinagar) <P>SRINAGAR, APRIL 1993. The Army was ordered to swoop down on the Police Control Room and disarm rebel policemen who had revolted against the government after one of their colleagues was shot by security forces at Hazratbal for collaborating with militants. <P>At the height of militancy in the early 90s, several personnel deserted the Jammu and Kashmir Police to join hands with the ultras. Many of them organised themselves under deserter Mohammad Afzal Malik alias Mamoon Rashid to form the Jihadia Commandos, which announced its arrival literally with a bang by bombing the Police Headquarters, seriously wounding JR Saxena, the then Director-General of J&K Police. This group later merged with the Hizbul Mujahideen. <P>The force was suspect, and was made defunct. “We were told to keep off, and leave policing to the central forces,” confesses a senior police officer. <P>February 2001. Central security forces again swoop down on the Srinagar Police Control Room, but not to quell a revolt. This time, it is to flush out militants who have stormed what is now the hub of anti-militancy operations. The metamorphosis of the J&K Police is complete, and they now have the militants certificate for it. <P>From the ‘Bhai, Bhai’ days of the early 90s, the turnaround for this tired, condemned force was stunning. Whether in the gunning down of Hilal Beg (said to be behind the killings of Kashmir University Vice-Chancellor Mushir-ul-Haq and the HMT general manager HL Khera) or the raid to flush out militants from the Hazratbal mosque in March 1996, there was a certain, uncharacteristic audaciousness about them. <P>And as the police gained in effectiveness, so did the media and political opprobrium of its role. But the generic name for cop-bashing in Kashmir is ‘SOG’ (Special Operations Group), pet hate and bete noire, which is blamed for everything except perhaps the weather. The group was set up in June 1994 to kick-start police involvement in anti-militant operations. <P>No evidence has been furnished yet, but the murder of local auto-rickshaw driver Bilal Ahmad earlier this month has been blamed by local rumour mills on the SOG. The yet unsubstantiated allegation that the victim was last seen in the company of two (unnamed) Sikh officers of the SOG has been readily lapped up, and police have been blamed for the murder. In retaliation, militants gunned down six innocent Sikhs at Mehjoor Nagar in Srinagar. The separatist Hurriyat Conference is leading a chorus of protests, accusing the group of murder, rape, loot and extortion. The Hurriyat, which describes the SOG as “a rogue force formed to harass and kill innocents”, accuses it of 25 extra-judicial killings since the ceasefire. The Dirty Harry image has been insurrected. <P>“Once any agency starts effectively taking on militants, the ISI-controlled militants start targetting it. As in Punjab, it is the preferred tactic of militants here as well to defame such agencies,” says BSF chief Gurbachan Jagat, who nursed the SOG during his four-year tenure as Director-General of J&K Police. Concures AK Bhan, Inspector-General Kashmir Range: “The same allegations were levelled against the Army and the BSF earlier when they were most visibly at the forefront of operations.” <P>Despite the Army, still, obviously calling the shots in counter-insurgency operations in the Valley, it’s the SOG which everyone loves to blame. It is blamed for the Army-led Pathribal operation, after locals contested the version of the security forces who claimed to have eliminated the killers of 35 Sikhs at Chhitisinghpora in March 2000. Those killed were innocent locals, they charge. The involvement of three Operations men in the subsequent firing on unarmed protestors at Brakpora reinforced the villainy. <P>The State Human Rights Commission is reported to have bene flooded with over 500 complaints ranging from custodial killings to rape. Human rights groups mention the disappearance of Fiyaz Ahmad Beg, a cameraman at Kashmir University, in 1997. They claim that after he was detained by Inspector HR Parihar of the SOG Litapora, he has not been seen. The Dirty Harrys have prospered, they allege. Parihar is now SP Kugam (Anantnag). <P>Even mainstream politicians have joined the chorus. Mehbooba Mufti, leader of the People?s Democratic Party lambasts the SOG as a “brute, extortionist force...killing innocents and looting common people with impunity”, and demands that it be disbanded. <P>Inspector-General PS Gill, who has been associated with the SOG for six years, denies that it?s a group of killers. “We offer the least incentive for shootouts and encounters. We have much more emphasis on intelligence and floating of moles. Our success lies in breaking the militants’ support structure, and shattering the outfits from within,” he stresses. <P>Farooq Khan, senior superintendent of police and one of the original SOG boys now who’s still under suspension in connection with the Brakpora shootout despite being exonerated by an inquiry commission, insists that a “terrorist alive is extremely valuable”. “He is able to provide information on the whole set-up. For instance, the arrest of Javed Shah, the chief of the Jehad Force, enabled us to disintegrate not only the Jehad Force but also Al Jehad and Al Fatah. His interrogation also helped us get some top Hizbul militants. Had we bumped him off, we could have claimed a scalp, but missed out on information,” he discloses. <P>Their expertise lies in neutralising the support structure of militants. “We’re able to smash hideouts, communication infrastructure, supply lines, trace bank accounts, choke funding and even expose their motivators, fund raisers, trainers and media managers,” explains Gill. “When we started functioning in 1994, there were as many as 30-40 militant organisations. By 1999, they were down to four,” he claims. One of the biggest successes was the busting of the militant conglomerate, the Shoura-e-Jehad, the forerunner of the United Jehad Council, which now operates from Pakistan and coordinates militant activity. <P>At the peak of SOG operations, there were about 1,000 SOG men in action. “Considering manpower ratio, we’ve been the most successful of all security agencies,” boasts Khan. The success, he reveals, lies in knowing the local reality like none else. “We know the local faultlines. Foreign militants of such groups as the Lashkar, and earlier the Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen, belong to the Ahle-Hadith sect, which is opposed to the ziyarat and mazar tradition, which is revered by the Kashmiris, most of whom belong to the Hanafi sect. We could exploit these inherent antagonisms to play one group against the other,” reveals Khan. <P>While defending the style, Jagat does concede that “small components of Ikhwanis (surrendered militants) were initially involved with the SOG, and helped conduct the 1996 polls”. After complaints of excesses against them, the vigilantes were dispensed with, he admits. <P>But Khan does not try too hard to shed the gunslinging image. “Gunfights are required to keep morale high. But we’re more suited to countering militants at the grassroots, cocially and psycholigically, and developing a vibrant intelligence network. Intelligence is everything,” he says. The topgun is adept at the sunslinging ways, but wants to hit the enemy by other means in a preferred battleground. “I must not forget what I’m more suited for,” shrugs Khan. Tough men too have modest ways. <P>

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