In 31 yrs, J&K lost 1,700 cops in anti-militancy ops

In 31 years, Jammu and Kashmir lost 1,700 policemen in anti-militancy operations

The J&K police have lost men from low-ranks to DIG-level officers during the last more than three decades

On June 14, 2018, prominent journalist Shujaat Bukhari was assassinated along with his two PSOs outside the Press Enclave in Srinagar. Credit: PTI Photo

Nearly 1,700 policemen have been killed in the line of duty in Jammu and Kashmir since the beginning of the insurgency in the erstwhile state, now union territory (UT), in 1989, official figures reveal.

Established in 1873, the Jammu and Kashmir Police force has been at the forefront of fighting Pakistan-sponsored proxy war in the UT since the late 1980s and it has lost nearly 1,700 personnel including officers of different ranks in the line of duty. Apart from counter-insurgency operations and law and order duties, policemen are also deployed for VIP security.

Among the 1,700 slain personnel, 508 include personal security officers (PSOs), who were deployed for protecting the politicians and other important persons, across the UT, the data reveals. “Majority of the PSOs lost their lives while protecting the person/politician they were deployed with.”

The J&K police have lost men from low-ranks to DIG-level officers during the last more than three decades. In 2004, a deputy inspector general of police was shot dead outside a masjid in Srinagar.

On June 14, 2018, prominent journalist Shujaat Bukhari was assassinated along with his two PSOs outside the Press Enclave in Srinagar. While Bukhari’s killing was rightly condemned on every forum, no one knows about the two PSOs who lost their lives in the line of duty.

A PSO deployed for the protection of a politician in Srinagar said that the life of a policeman like him was so tough that he had to think twice and sound an alert before taking dinner, lunch or breakfast. “Fear always looms over on our head. Our nature of the job is full of risk. You never know when and where we can be attacked,” he told DH on the condition of anonymity.

But, the PSO said, life goes on as “this is our duty and we will perform it to the best of our capabilities.” Besides the long duty hours and the shadow of death looming large, these policemen also have thoughts of the welfare of their relatives to reckon with.

Militant organisations like Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba have several times released threats on social media warning policemen and other security personnel to resign or face dire consequences.

“Local policemen are unsung heroes as it is their efficiency that a large number of militants and top commanders have been eliminated. And whenever terrorists face losses at the hands of security forces, they try to find soft targets and sometimes off-duty policemen become easy targets for them,” a senior police officer said.

In recent years, the policemen have even been advised to avoid visiting their homes and if they do, they have been asked to take “extreme precautions” particularly in volatile south Kashmir districts of Pulwama, Shopian, Kulgam and Anantnag.