There has been a significant transformation of the J&K Police, from a passive observer to being the most outstanding anti-terrorist organisation in the country.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is a lucky man. Had he been in any other state, the Mirwaiz would’ve been charged under Sec 120b. Anybody who is familiar with policing would know Sec 120b is the simplest means of including someone in a conspiracy to a crime. Circumstantial evidence is all that is required to bring charges. And the Mirwaiz provided enough circumstantial evidence by his presence, and sermon, when the tragic lynching of Dy Sp Mohammed Ayub Pandith took place during the night of 22 June 2017 outside Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta area of Srinagar’s old city.
But then, the Mirwaiz is no ordinary citizen, Jammu & Kashmir no ordinary state, and its police certainly no ordinary force.
J&K Police has quietly and methodically become the most outstanding anti-terrorist organisation in the country. Given the plethora of security agencies in the country, and the myriad mutinies being tackled across the map, this is no small achievement. But there is enough evidence to back this claim, circumstantial, data-driven, as well as perception. And none more important than the fact that army officers have begun to vouch for the efficacy of J&K Police-led operations. This, as the jihadists take particular pleasure in lynching and mutilating brave policemen from the state, and target the local police more than any other armed force for brutality.
Before the late Dy SP was brutalised, six of his colleagues met a similar fate a week earlier in Achabal, a village east of Anantnag. Their faces were mutilated, reminiscent of the shock-and-awe tactics of the Islamic State and its previous incarnations. The inspiration is the global jihad headquarters of Islamic State, and the motivation is to spread fear down the ranks of the most important, and best-performing organ of the state, the local police. There have been numerous incidents specifically targeting policemen on, or off duty.
There has been a significant transformation of the J&K Police, from a passive observer to an active participant. This is an obviously deliberate, and an institutional drive, one that has taken the police to the forefront of operational initiatives. There was a time, not too long ago, when the Army would initiate operations entirely from scratch, developing sources on their own and laying ambushes. There wasn’t much of an input from J&K Police. And, in fact, it was even considered suspect.
But over the years, there has been a quiet, and determined, re-modelling of the force. It is at the forefront of operations now, and there isn’t a single key catch without inputs, and participation, of the J&K Police. Besides statistics, data, and the ubiquitous power point presentations, the barometer of its performance is the response of the jihadis and terrorists.
On that score, it is clear that they have decided to target the J&K Police, individually, as well as institutionally. Many incidents and encounters have already targeted the local police, and many more will be attempted. But the fact that the J&K Police remains at the centre of the anti-terrorist grid is testament to their persona, performance, and persistence.
To use the standard operational lexicon ‘high value catch’ as the benchmark, the quality of catches made is directly proportional to level of participation of J&K Police.
As with all insurgencies, and so-called popular movements, this is indeed the tipping point. When the most important institution of the state, and the one with the most public contact, becomes the primary anti-terrorist force, then it is obvious where the perceptions are headed. They cannot, of course, solve political matters, but from their counter response it is patently clear how efficient they have been at enforcing their roles and responsibilities. The recently released Independence Day list of police awards is the humblest reflection of their efficiency. More will come their way, for sure.
Let us now return to the Mirwaiz, who justified the lynching of Dy Sp Pandith using the “root cause” theory. He obviously forgot that the theory has been junked by the same western and eastern think tanks that fete people like him. But that justification/clarification is reason enough to book him under Sec 120b, but obviously the J&K Police has bigger fish to catch.
Manvendra Singh is Editor, Defence and Security Alert magazine & a BJP MLA from Rajasthan.