Police Much Free in Governor Rule: Former Top Cop

SP Vaid

ONCE thought as a leading light of ‘opinionated police’—who wanted media to correct its Kashmir branding—former Director General of Police, SP Vaid is currently using words as his weapon.

He lately threw his weight behind his parent department’s “fake encounter” fact-finding, demanding that the culprits who killed the three innocent boys at Amshipora should be charged with murder.

After hanging up his boots, the tech-savvy ex-cop who presided over an intense anti-militancy campaign in Kashmir is now wondering about the unabated recruitment in the post-abrogated political landscape.

While calling for a study and societal participation to stop boys for heading woods, Vaid in a chat with Kashmir Observer talks about the security situation of the valley in detail.

How do you see the current security situation in Kashmir?

The situation seems to be under control. You can hardly see any disruption of law and order. But infiltration attempts are still made by militants in Jammu and Kashmir.

Despite hundreds of militants killed during your tenure, recruitment is still unabated. Has the counterinsurgent offensive failed as a strategy to curb militancy?

Yes, it remains the fact that the militant recruitments haven’t stopped. That is why I am saying we need to find out why local youth are joining the militant ranks and what drives them towards it.

The youth are leaving their homes, bright careers and near and dear ones, despite knowing that they will be killed within months.

We need to know, because they are after all our boys. By whatever means it will happen, we’ve to stop them from joining militancy.

During your tenure you repeatedly maintained that Pakistan is instigating youth through social media. And yet, 2020 saw 167 youths from Kashmir joining militant groups, despite restrictions imposed on internet?

See, I agree, during my tenure Pakistan was instigating youth through social media and of course many youth would join militancy from the funeral processions of killed militants but those things aren’t happening now.

The administration needs to look into the matter, as what motivates youth to pick up arms? Why over 160 youth still went into this path? And why are they feeling alienated?

I believe without alienation they would not join because why would a child leave his comfortable life even if he knows he will get killed within months.

I believe since New Delhi directly rules in Jammu and Kashmir, the government should initiate a study to know what prompts young people to join militant ranks and identify and eliminate those reasons.

There should be counselling centres where the young people should be counselled. The government should also use psychologists, sociologists, universities and colleges to study what drives youth to this path.

What do you think about the future of militancy in Kashmir?

No one knows the future here. What can I say!

You recently told a New Delhi-based web portal that during your time, people would complain that their kids are being tortured and that it was better to become a militant. Can you explain it further?

Yes, I used to get such complaints during my tenure.

In wake of any such complaint, the local and police administration needs to ascertain whether it is genuine or not, and act accordingly.

We need to check whether there is a need to improve the working system of police, or is there a need to improve their behavior, or is it a problem of perception.

Then we need to identify the perception and think of remedial measures.

That is why I assert that a detailed study is needed to know what drives youth towards arms.

We need to talk to their families, friends and other acquaintances to know the reason.

Do you think post abrogation of Article 370 the sense of alienation towards the system has grown?

If 160 boys have joined militancy, then what is it? That means they got alienated and the OGWs might have will be ready to jump the well.

So it is our collective responsibility as a society to know what drives them to militancy and how to stop them.

Let’s talk about the Shopian “fake encounter” about which you recently remarked, “killing innocent youth and show them as terrorists is most heinous crime and those involved should be charged for murder”.

See, the fake encounters not only alienate a particular family but the whole society. Justice should not only be done, it should be appeared to be done.

When people come to know their kids were killed by security forces, they will go far away from them.

You also said Governor Rule would make it “much easier” for police to work in Kashmir. Were regional political parties interfering in your work?

See, at my level, there was no such interference from the ruling party.

But yes, at the lower level, there can be such interference from the MLAs. Police is not answerable to any MLA or Minister.

This is not the case in Governor Rule, where police is much free.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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