As Kashmir boils, police top brass sets ground rules for troops
As the killing of a teenager on Saturday during the anti-Israel protests in south Kashmir put the valley on the edge again and left four more injured on Sunday, the police top brass, in a reprimand, warned security personnel against using live bullets and directed them to follow the standard operational procedure.
"It is unfortunate that we are not learning from our past mistakes. Please ensure that you don't put yourself in situations where you resort to firing," reads the missive sent by inspector general of police Abdul Ghani Mir to senior district police officers immediately after the killing of the teenager in south Kashmir's Kulgam district, 60 km away from Srinagar, on Saturday.
The IGP's missive, a copy of which was obtained by Hindustan Times, expressed concern over the fact that policemen were not carrying less lethal pump action guns while supervising the law and order situation during the anti-Israel protests in the valley.
"It is compulsory for you to be properly equipped. Please fire nine number pump action guns as a last resort and not bullets," said the IGP's directive.
He directed all deputy inspectors general of police and district superintendents of police to pass on the message to deputy superintendents of police and station house officers. "The counterparts in the CRPF should also be informed and (sic) ensure that firing is not resorted to in law and order situations," the IGP's directive says.
The government on Sunday also decided to impose Section 144 that bars the assembly of more than four people strictly across the valley. "In view of the report received from the senior superintendent of police, Srinagar, in which he has stated that after the Gaza crisis and protest calls by various secessionist groups, there is credible apprehension that certain elements in these groups may resort to various activities, which may create obstruction and hamper the smooth functioning of the administration," wrote the Srinagar district magistrate while imposing Section 144.
Ironically, it was the mainstream parties like the ruling National Conference, the BJP and the opposition People's Democratic Party, which first took to the streets over the Gaza situation that left more than 340 dead, most of them civilians.
Meanwhile, four people, including two protesters and two policemen, were injured in fresh, violent clashes that broke out in Kulgam district's Qaimoh area, the hometown of the slain 15-year-old boy Suhail Ahmad.
Despite security deployment and restrictions, protesters took to the streets and raised anti-Israel slogans. They engaged in stone pelting battles with security forces in the area.
"Four persons, including two policemen, received minor injuries in the pelting incident. All the injured were discharged from the hospital after being given first aid," said a police spokesman.
Hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani called for a shutdown in the twin districts of Kulgam and Anantnag. The call for the shutdown evoked a near-total response as very few vehicles were seen plying in these districts and most shops remained closed.
The government had already announced an inquiry into the incident to ascertain the circumstances that led to the killing of the teenager.