Stellar Coincidence

Jehangir Ali

It appears like a stellar stroke of some kind. All agencies that make J&K’s powerful and elaborate security grid have recently landed in interesting situations, some of which are at once embarrassing while others present new challenges.

The most important force that has an elephant’s share in decision-making on security affairs is in a messy affair, second time for the same reason. Within three months after a soldier’s inadvertent watching of his boss’s wife in birthday suit led to a mini-rebellion in Leh’s remote Nyoma, almost a similar situation arose in Jammu. This time a revelation suggested that 104 officers were involved in selling or purchase of non-service weapons in J&K.

A soldier from Thiruvananthapuram, Swaran Arun V was denied leave because he had just returned from home in June. He committed suicide that angered his colleagues. Soldiers and officers engaged themselves in a standoff in the 16th Light Cavalry garrison at Samba. The soldiers surrounded residences of their officers creating a situation that the army had to move in columns from units stationed in neighboring areas. A General had to counsel the soldiers. Immediately after a court of inquiry was instituted to look into circumstances that led to the stand-off and all the officers of the unit were posted out.

Defence Minister A K Antony has sought a detailed report from Army chief Gen Bikram Singh. According to SSP Samba Israr Khan, Arun committed suicide moments after he received a call. In the same district, the Border Security Force (BSF) was struggling with a tunnel that a farmer discovered after his land caved in 800 meters inside the International Border in R S Pora. Fingers were pointed toward Pakistan. The investigators were trying to understand how and when the tunnel was burrowed, and for what? They were flummoxed at how it could not be detected earlier and worried if there are similar tunnels along the border and LoC of J&K that militants and smugglers could be using.

The CRPF, second line but a main cushion of the security set up fighting militancy. The paramilitary force encountered a new ‘phenomenon’ in Sopore where it claimed a group of minor children were lobbing grenades. The chance discovery from CCTV led the CRPF bosses to claim that they were facing 2500 minors capable of being misused by insurgents! And then there is the J&K Police, the second largest police force in India after UP. Recently, one of its former DySP rank officer, Abdul Hamid Bhat who retired three months earlier, was shot dead outside a mosque in Batamaloo. This has generated new worries within the police force about securing its retired flock.

In the name of security, some serving officers have platoons deployed literally as servants, watchmen and cooks for their own and extended families. And then questions are being asked about how the police were gauging the ‘threat perception’ of its state subjects. While all and sundry in the political parties are entitled to better security systems what about those who have retired? And, if all the retired policemen and officers are entitled to the same elaborate security set up, a new class will emerge and a new division will take place in the society, which is otherwise best fighting divisive forces operating in the name of faith, ideology, politics and money.

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