Sometimes it takes an incident or two to alter someone’s alter ego. This is what happened when police resorted to baton-charging to thump some discipline in an unruly (non-native) student mob of NIT Srinagar lately, vandalising their way in the campus. No sooner, the police action followed, J&K police’s nationalism faced ruthless media trail.

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Perhaps the retort was enough to make men in uniform realise that caning non-natives and natives isn’t the same thing. The brouhaha mostly began in Delhi media studios where JKP was hit left, right and centre. What followed was an apparent media-lynch of Khaki brigade.

Though JKP skipped the formal presser to respond the media-lynch, some top officers took to social media to vent their feelings. The expressed feelings appeared ‘demoralising’ in the face of the campus takeover, from police to paramilitary.

But with NIT unrest refusing to scale down, the media campaign against ‘the limb of the law’ attained a new pitch.

It was under this pitched campaign that police resorted to their self-defence. First they released the videos showing non-locals vandalising the NIT campus. And then sticking to basics, the police prepared a secret-sleuth report and submitted it to the state government. The authors of the reports have reportedly highlighting the “ultra-nationalist” tendencies of Delhi media and how they flared up the campus issue.

The report came close on the heels of police’s “mild lathi-charge” statement that triggered tempers. After facing flak, it was the time to show some policing skills.

Two FIRs followed into the campus violence. Police invoked Sections 148 (rioting), 149 (unlawful assembly), 427 (mischief), 336 (endangering life of others) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC) for the clashes between local and outstation students. In another FIR, police besides slapping the charges of the previous FIR added Sections 353 (assault on public servant) and 188 (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant).

With two FIRs, police were at business usual. It initiated investigation without identifying the booked students.

But as the matter is apparently snowballing into the major campus crisis, many police officers are quizzing themselves: ‘whose war are we fighting?’ The statement drew mixed responses. Cops are saying that the ‘bad phase’ shall pass. But some civilians have their own conclusions to draw: ‘Maybe, now, JKP must learn that loyalties do shift with situations.’

– Riyaz ul Khaliq


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