It has happened four times since last March. And every time, it apparently alarmed, if not unnerved, police rank and file. The latest came from Old Srinagar, where disgruntled SPO from Budgam fled with his colleague’s AK-47. Police say they are probing the “method behind the madness”. But, the political pep talk in Srinagar has already termed ‘rebel nerve’ as the big challenge for police to tackle in days to come.
It started when the cop-turned-crusader from Pulwama was reportedly rebuffed by his seniors. It was March 29, 2015, when cop Naseer Pandith, posted at the residence of erstwhile R&B minister Altaf Bukhari, fled with two rifles. Within days, Pandith was a new member of Burhan group.
As fact-finding about his switchover started, it surfaced that this former cop of Pulwama’s Kareemabad was reportedly snubbed by his seniors. A series of reports quoting his parents claimed that Pandith was seen as some sort of social activist than a cop.
“He would bring the cases of drug addicts to his seniors’ notice,” said his former colleague. “At times, his dogged campaign would turn off his bosses who would tell him to stop it.” This, said Pandith’s colleague, became a turning point in his life. “He probably thought there is no fun of flogging the dead horse anymore—and thus, switched sides in face of indifference.”
By last fall, another cop from Pulwama recreated ‘Pandith moment’. Raqib Bashir deserted the police department after joining it as an SPO. This ATM guard-turned-cop fled with his service rifle a day after joining the Khaki brigade. Within days, police said their cop was a new Hizb recruit. And since then, he was at large before being killed by forces on Saturday evening in an encounter at Pulwama’s Gundpora village. Behind his rebel verve, said his father, were atrocities inflicted by police’s SOG.
And then another rifle snatching incident surfaced on January 16, 2016 when Shakoor Parrey, posted as personal security officer to Sub-Division Police Officer, Bijbehara, Irshad Bhat, decamped with four service rifles. Behind the switchover of this Shopian cop, many say was the fascination for the ‘rebel’ camp.
20 days later, a Budgam SPO fled with AK-47 from old city—making it fourth such incident in less than a year.
With police busy joining the dots, no higher up clarified to Kashmir Life, as why this ‘madness’ for AK-47!