“Whose war are we fighting?”
Three Jammu and Kashmir police officers took to Facebook to answer this question following criticism of the force over its action to quell violence at a technical institute in Srinagar that has reignited a debate over nationalism.
Police also released a video purportedly showing non-local students damaging NIT property and clashing with police personnel on April 5.
In separate posts, the three officers defended the use of force on NIT students and said they “don’t need any certificate of nationalism” from anyone in the country.
“Many of my colleagues have been asking and many more must be thinking ‘whose war are we fighting?’,” Baramulla’s deputy superintendent of police Firoz Yehya said in a Facebook post on Thursday.
He said the unrest “is just another phase and will pass” and added, “We must continue doing the good work within the ambit of law and nothing shall deter us.”
Added Yehya: “Good, common people who we serve may be alienated with us for reasons more than one, and our good work shall certainly help us win their hearts.”
The state police force was removed from the campus after allegations of excesses on ‘non-local’ students who had clashed with their local counterparts over a WT20 match between India and eventual champion West Indies.
The non-local students – who number around 1,500 – had objected to local students celebrating after India’s loss in the semi final on March 31 leading to clashes between the two groups. Police had cracked down on non-local students the next day during a demonstration.
A section of NIT students and leaders of the ruling BJP had accused police of bias against “outsider students”.
Mubassir Latifi, the senior superintendent of police (crime), also said the police force “doesn’t need any certificate of nationalism or impartiality from those whose valour doesn’t extend beyond their keypads.
“Jammu and Kashmir Police is a saga of sacrifice and courage and has brought this state out of a madness called terrorism.”
Shopian’s senior superintendent of police Shailendra Mishra had some advice for NIT’s students who have been very critical of the police.
“Be responsible with your words, students. The Jammu and Kashmir Police are a nationalist force with high professional standards,” he said.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police, raised in 1873, are in charge of law and order in 22 districts of the trouble-torn state.
Meanwhile, some Kashmiri people said that the state police’s “brutality” to quell protests in Kashmir was nothing new.
A senior Srinagar-based journalist told HT that if Kashmiri students in any local college had protested like non-locals of NIT, “then many students would have perhaps fallen to bullets”.
Khurram Parvez, programme coordinator at Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), was also scathing in his criticism of the police, saying that they “kill, brutalise & humiliate people of Kashmir”.
With inputs from agencies