Being locals, the SPOs, who fight militancy alongside the army and regular police, have emerged as the most vulnerable targets for militants in the Valley.
New Delhi: The spate of resignations triggered by threats from militants has finally led the Central government to revise the pay of special police officers (SPOs) in Jammu & Kashmir, a longstanding demand of local stakeholders.
However, their salary still ranges from Rs 6,000 for a service of up to five years, to Rs 12,000 for a veteran of 15 years.
SPOs are at the forefront of counter-terrorism operations in J&K. With almost negligible training, these personnel are expected to work alongside the regular police and the Army in fighting the Valley’s decades-old militancy, and even lay down their lives if required.
A senior J&K police officer described the revised pay as a “joke”.
“Imagine serving 15 years without being made a regular. I think even private security guards earn more,” he said.
“We have been repeatedly seeking a revision in their emoluments but nobody bothered till these guys started resigning in this manner,” the police officer added.
The revision of the SPOs’ “monthly honorarium” was ordered Tuesday, a day after the J&K government sent an SOS to the union ministry of home affairs, and months after the erstwhile Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP-BJP state administration first approached the Centre with the request.
According to the order issued by the Central government, the 10,967 SPOs who have been working for less than five years will now be paid an honorarium of Rs 6,000 per month, while the 10,623 personnel with a service ranging from five to 15 years will be paid Rs 9,000 per month. The 8,411 SPOs who have completed 15 years will get Rs 12,000 per month.
Threatened to resign
Over the last 10 days, more than three dozen SPOs in J&K have put in their papers after Pakistan-backed militant group Hizbul Mujahideen threatened them to “resign or die”. The Hizbul diktat also called for the SPOs to make their resignations public by putting out videos on social media.
The resignations came after three SPOs were kidnapped and killed last week. This attack came on the heels of several others where the SPOs, who are locals, and their families were specifically targeted by militants as “informers”.
Worried about the ripple effect of the resignation videos, the state government even blocked internet services in several parts of the Valley.
Sources in the state administration said former director general of police S.P. Vaid, who was unceremoniously removed from his post weeks after the imposition of governor’s rule in the state, had taken up the issue of pay revision as well as the need to absorb them as regular policemen in a time-bound manner, on several occasions.