It doesn’t matter that he has taken two bullets. What matters in the teargas-filled Valley is that he is being held ‘responsible’ for killing militant commander Burhan Wani.
A policeman injured in the operation on July 8 that killed Wani and two others, is now lying secluded in a high-security hospital ward. Neither the policeman nor the hospital can be named, for that poses a threat to his life.
Normally, security personnel are feted for killing militants. But in surcharged Kashmir, reeling under a spate of violence after Wani’s killing, the local police now find themselves at the receiving end of protesters engaged in pitched street battles with security forces.
“He is on the hit list. Do not allow any interviews or photographs,” was the request the policeman’s seniors made when they brought the injured cop to the hospital. All that the officials are willing to reveal is that the Jammu and Kashmir policeman has multiple gun-shot wounds, “one in the left hip and another in the left thigh.”
One policeman was drowned in the Jhelum when protesters pushed his vehicle into the river. Several others have been injured in the strife. Families too have been threatened for siding with the state.
Constable Nisar Ahmed Bhat, injured while chasing a mob on the outskirts of Srinagar, also lies in the same hospital, his face hidden by layers of bandage.
“There is immense pressure on us. The angry youth told me they know where I live and they’ll come get me,” he said, barely managing to whisper the words.
Crucial to the fight against the insurgents, it is the local police which knows the terrain and the topography and it is they that the paramilitary and army are dependent on. The operation that killed Wani was also a joint one between the army and the local police.
The use of pellet guns , that have left more than a hundred requiring eye surgeries, has added to the local ire against the police, which acquired the ‘non-lethal’ crowd control weapon in 2010 after many youth died of bullet injuries.
The separatists increased pressure by issuing a statement, calling on the police to “not use live ammunition against common Kashmiris who are your own people unlike the Indian army and the CRPF.”
Despite the piquant situation -- caught between duty and their “own people” – and threat to their lives, the plight of Kashmiri policemen have gone virtually unnoticed.
No one is talking about the anonymous policeman or what protection he might get once his bullet injuries have healed.