He’s a patriotic rogue.
Ghulam Mohammad Mir, 60, has ridden his image of a nationalist thug to great “success” and greater infamy in his native Kashmir. It even landed him a Padma Shri this year — for “social work and public service”.
Till a few years ago, he was on trial in several cases of extortion, illegal confinement and kidnapping. His name evoked terror among militants and locals alike. But all those cases have all been closed. Only one attempt to murder case is still pending against Mir, considered the “father of counter-insurgency” in Kashmir.
But, the police said, the one-time police informant who “facilitated” the surrender or killing of over 200 terrorists since the start of the insurgency in the early 1990s and led a private militia of dozens of armed ex-militants, was never a militant himself.
Perhaps that’s why a “character certificate” from the police in Magam, his home base in Budgam district, 25 km north of Srinagar, gushingly endorses his “integrity and nationalism”.
J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has said he has no idea how Mir’s name was recommended for a Padma award.
Mir was quick to react. “The father recommended me. I don’t know what the son is saying,” he said.
He showed Hindustan Times copies of letters from Wajahat Habibullah, Chief Information Commissioner (dated July 14, 2009), and National Conference Patron and Union Minister Farooq Abdullah (September 10, 2009) recommending him for a Padma Shri.
“Main sachcha Bharatiya hoon, aur yeh Padma Shri mujhe desh prem ke liye mila (I’m a true Indian and I received the Padma Shri for my patriotism). I brought about the surrender or killing of at least 3,000 militants,” he said.
A carpenter by profession, Mir emerged as a much-feared counter-insurgent after militants killed his brother, nephew and son in quick succession in 1991.
The local CRPF camp is located on a plot of land owned by him. This means his large house within that same compound is, by default, protected round-the-clock by over 100 armed CRPF personnel – a pointer to his clout in one the few areas in Kashmir that is free of insurgency.