The rising incidents of cops decamping with service weapons in the valley is turning out to be troublesome for Jammu and Kashmir Police. With a rapid rise of such incidents in the recent years, most of these weapons usually end up in the hands of Hizbul Mujahideen, an outfit whose cadre largely comprises local Kashmiri militants headed by Riyaz Naikoo.
In one such incident, a Special Police Officer (SPO) named Adil Sheikh decamped with seven service rifles and a pistol that belongs to the People Democratic Party MLA Aijaz Mir. At the time of the incident, Mir was not present in his residence. He was visiting the city of Chandigarh in relation to some health-related issue. Upon reaching Jammu on 27th September 2018, he called his security and informed them about his arrival.
As per sources, Security men had dumped the weapons at his official residence and went to have a break.
Later that evening, as they reached back to Jawahar Nagar, they found that all the weapons along with the SPO was missing from the official residence of the PDP legislator in Srinagar on Friday. As per the rule in the police department, no personnel can retain their weapon while going on leave rather should deposit them (weapons) in the post or nearest police station.
Clearly, the instructions were not followed by the guards of the MLA in this case.
While speaking to Republic TV, a top Police officer said, “They are looking into how the SPO managed to flee with so many guns. It is not the job of a single person to run away with such a huge quantity of weapons. There are more people involved and we are investigating,” he said while adding “those guards whose weapons had gone missing too are being questioned as they had not deposited their weapons in the post. All angles are being looked into”..
A high alert has been sounded across Srinagar and all routes leading to South Kashmir (as the deserted SPO is from Zainpora, Shopian of South Kashmir) have been sealed to nab the deserter SPO.
Also, the Police has announced a cash reward of Rs 2 lakh for any information leading to the arrest of an SPO. In recent years, several such incidents have been reported in the Valley, where policemen decamped with the service rifles of fellow cops and later joined militants. However, this is the first time when a policeman has decamped with such a huge quantity of weapons from a residence of an MLA.
Nowadays, weapon stealing incidents are making an upward trend and one of the reasons for it is “the shortage of weapons in the Valley and the strengthening of the counter-infiltration grid along the LoC to prevent militants from sneaking in, who usually would get weapons from across the border,” said Army Officer while wishing anonymity.
Honorarium hike SPOs are recruited by the police on a fixed monthly remuneration of Rs 6000. The wages of SPOs are given by the state government and reimbursed by the Centre under the Security Related Expenditure (SRE) scheme. The police maintain SPOs as an important element in their strategy to combat militancy. On 26th September, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) increased the honorarium for SPOs with more than 15 years of service, from Rs 6,000 to Rs 12,000 per month.
March 29, 2015: Cop guarding house of former PDP minister Altaf Bukhari decamps with 2 rifles
Jan 16, 2016: Cop decamps with 4 rifles from the residence of a police officer in south Kashmir.
May 8, 2016: Suspected militants decamp with service rifles of 4 policemen from Kulgam security post
October 16, 2017: Suspected militants flee with 5 guns from security men guarding TV tower in Anantnag
April 25, 2018: Militants attack armed guard at Goripora, Hyderpora and decamp with 4 rifles.
May 16, 2018: Suspected militants snatch a rifle from a policeman at University of Kashmir
May 17, 2018: Suspected militants flee with 3 INSAS rifles of policemen guarding Hotel Hillskart in Dalgate, Srinagar