Jammu and Kashmir floods: When floods pushed Kashmir police to the brink

  • Peerzada Ashiq, Hindustan Times, Srinagar
  • Updated: Sep 26, 2014 13:29 IST

The 'attack' unleashed by fast rising flood waters on September 7 was worse than "suicidal attacks and raging militancy of early 90s". While there was a compete breakdown of command and control, one-third of police deployments remained stranded in at least 15 police station in Srinagar.

Three weeks after floods hit the capital of Srinagar, the police are assessing the damages and underlining gaps that lead to a complete breakdown. From September 7, the day flood raged and ravaged Srinagar, to September 9, two senior officials --- inspector general of police and director general police ranks --- remained stranded inside Police Control Room.

Of five zones, in which the city is divided, three senior superintendents of police remained out of touch for first three days. Dozens of top ranking officials remained stuck either in Jawahar Nagar or Bemina police colonies.

"During survey of affected areas, it was noticed that huge losses have suffered to the properties of the organisation, effecting professional policing. Infrastructure, communication network, mobility and equipments including software has been damaged at large," said director general of police K Rajendra Kumar.

All important police installations --- including buildings of police's special branch, CID, DIG office, IG office, Security Lines, District Police Lines, Police Control Room, Armed Police. Headquarters --- were taken over. Around 15 police stations, with records of stone pelters, separatists and militants, were under water up to one floor.

"Not all records were salvaged," said a police officer, on condition of anonymity. "It was more devastating than militancy and deadly than fidayeen attacks," he added.

Sources said the IGP Kashmir, A G Mir, who reported in slippers to the makeshift base at Technical Airport, had a risky escape from the PCR, where he was stranded for two days. "The way he escaped was risky and not advisable," said another top-ranking officer on the condition of anonymity. Kashmir continues to reel under militancy and separatist supporters.

There was no command and control as only a few top ranking officials were in touch and police stations cut off from top brass. Sources said a huge weaponry, which include guns and tear-smoke shells, was shifted to upper storey in the police lines. Most weapons and cartridges remain safe, said sources. In one case, weapons were shifted to a multi-storey private building and kept there for days together, said the source.

Only saving grace of the police, the internal communication, was overburden by the civil administration, further slowing down policing. In many police stations, the police were withdrawn from streets in the old city for a few days. "We were helpless without boats. The boats should have been sent through us," said a police officer.

In one police station, accused joined hands with cops to leave the post.

Besides, chief minister Omar Abdullah, top officers of the administration and ministers were connected with the police system of communication for coordination. It also decreased command and control line of action of the police, said sources.

What further hampered the functioning was dozens of police vehicles taken over by flood water. "As an immediate step, private vehicles were hired to replace the damaged vehicles and make the mobility functional. One lakh litres of fuel was arranged to run the rescue and relief operations by the force and civil administration," admits DGP Kumar.

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