Disturbing Turn In Situation

The killings of three SPOs in Shopian has triggered a spate of resignations from their ranks in South Kashmir.  According to media reports, around eighteen SPOs have dissociated from the force so far. The resignations have been announced through videos posted on Facebook or circulated on WhatsApp. In some cases, the SPOs have declared their dissociation at the local mosques. On Saturday a woman SPO also announced her resignation from the force on social media. Last week, a video message purportedly by Hizbul Mujahideen had warned all local policemen, especially SPOs, to resign. The threat followed by the killings has triggered panic in SPO ranks. The contagion is likely to spread. More so, during the upcoming local elections when the level of violence is likely to rise considering that the government’s determination to hold polls will be up against the separatist call for boycott of the exercise.

However, so far the government has denied that the SPOs have resigned. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement that reports about the resignations of the SPOs was a “false propaganda”. Similarly, the police  brass in J&K has refused to accept that any cop has resigned.  But this is hardly the perception that is shared by the people.

In recent past also, the police and the militants have once again got their families involved in the conflict. Up until the outbreak of the fresh phase of militancy, the militants and the police men didn’t harm each other’s families. Early this month, the police released 11 family members of Kashmiri militants in return for the militants freeing an equal number of relatives of policemen taken captive by them in tit-for-tat abductions. Considering their far-reaching implications for the anti-militancy operations in the state, the incidents have sent alarm bells ringing through the security establishment. Militants, on their part have justified the raid as a retaliation to the police raids at their houses and the arrest of their family members.

The harassment of the families are seen as the outcome of the change in tactics by both the police and the militants. The trend shows the very disturbing turn that the situation is taking. And the response to this is not the use of disproportionate force but a sustained political engagement. But this is something that the government currently seems least interested in at this point of time. The militant attacks on the houses of the police officers and those of the later on the militant houses is not a good sign of the things to come. It is time that the governments, both at the state and the centre wake up to the situation and think of a substantive political response to deal with it.

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