The state government has taken a slew of measures to rehabilitate the families of special police officers (SPO’s) killed during the anti-militancy operations in Jammu and Kashmir.
This was revealed by the government through a written answer to the question raised by Ashok Kumar, a lawmaker, in the legislative assembly on Tuesday. The government said the slain SPO’s will be granted ex-gratia relief, special welfare relief out of the contributory welfare fund, free schooling for the wards of SPO’s killed and the appointment of one of their eligible family members in the J&K police in the event of their death in militancy related incidents.
The government also said it has formulated a comprehensive policy for the absorption/conversion of SPOs, with a minimum three years of continuous engagement as constables/followers. The government said the SPOs will be promoted on the basis of their excellence in counter insurgency operations, performance in state or national level sports competitions and ITI diploma in different trades.
Kumar had asked the government about the steps taken for the rehabilitation of families of the SPOs killed during anti-militancy operations and had made special reference to his constituency. SPOs refer to a special force formed in early nineties to counter the militancy in J&K. Although the SPO personnel are part of the ordinary police force of the state, it is separately known for the role it played in the counterinsurgency.
Independent activists and human rights bodies have accused the SPOs of indulging in human rights in Kashmir and people still remember them as a ‘notorious’ force, although a considerable change has occurred on ground over the last few years. In the far flung and hilly areas of Jammu region, village defence committees (VDCs,) were formed to counter militancy. Like SPOs, these VDCs are also infamous for violating human rights while some of them have been recently accused of the alleged bungling of weapons provided to them by the government or the arms recovered by them from the slain militants.
Giving details of the number of VDCs, the government said 228 are functional only in Ramban district. “The composition of VDCs varies from 10 to 15 armed volunteers. Besides, SPOs deployed with VDCs are paid an honorarium of Rs.3000 per month. However, no such honorarium is payable to VDC members in view of the voluntary nature of their service,” the government stated.