SRINAGAR: At least 1700 policemen including 508 Personal Security Officers (PSOs) protecting politicians of various political parties in the past 30 years of strife in Kashmir, reveal official figures available with Jammu and Kashmir.
A senior police official told news agency KNO that at least 1700 policemen including 508 PSOs, who were deployed for protecting the politicians of various political parties, across the length and breadth of Kashmir, were killed in line of duty in the past almost 30 years. “Majority of the PSOs lost their lives while protecting the person/politician they were deployed with,” the official said.
He said that it is obvious that the PSOs protecting the person who is categorized as the protected person are vulnerable to attacks and are “considered as prone to attacks.” “Even though they are laced with the latest weapons, but given their job schedule that includes guarding the person at home and on the road besides at a political event or a rally, they are prone to militant attacks,” the official said.
He said in today’s case, there was no security lapse as militants believed to be two to three in number, fired indiscriminately at PSO Manzoor Ahmed, at the entrance gate of the protected person of PDP Haji Pervez Ahmed, leaving him critically wounded. “He had multiple bullet injuries and succumbed. Even though the attack was repulsed by the second PSO, who fired but we lost PSO Manzoor Ahmed,” the official said.
On October six, PSO Altaf Ahmed was killed while repulsing attack on a BJP leader Ghulam Qadir at Ganderbal district of Central Kashmir. A militant was also killed in Altaf’s retaliatory action. The BJP leader escaped unhurt. However, on July 9, BJP’s youth leader Waseem Bari, his brother and father were killed at north Kashmir’s Bandipora despite the fact that Bari had 10 PSOs for his protection. The Police top brass later suspended all 10 PSO’s “for dereliction of duties.”
Imtiyaz Ahmed, (name changed) a PSO deployed for the protection of a politician in Srinagar, said that the life of a PSO is so tough that he has to think twice and sound an alert before taking dinner, lunch or breakfast. “Fear always looms over on our head. Our nature of job is full of risk. You never know when and where we can be attacked. But life goes on, this is our duty and we will perform it to the best of our capabilities,” he said.
A senior police officer said that a fresh security advisory was on cards for the PSOs given the fact that many political leaders are taking part in rallies/campaigning in the wake of ongoing District Development Council (DDC) polls. “An in-house security advisory will soon be issued to the PSOs across Kashmir,” he said.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the wreath laying ceremony of slain PSO Manzoor at DPL Srinagar, J&K DGP said that attacks on political leaders and PSOs are being carried out to disrupt the ongoing election exercise in which peoples’ participation is huge. “Attacks on political leaders or PSOs can be taken despite security measures. BJP leader Waseem Bari was killed despite having 10 PSOs for his protection. Police can’t put the entire local population under curfew to prevent a movement of militants. I am sure that police will track down those involved in Natipora attack bring them to justice,” he said.