Emotions upset JKP cops; Fighting fellow citizens cause dilemma

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Srinagar: More than 14 hours of daily duty that too without break for almost two months and no time even to untie the untidy khaki pads protecting legs and the chest and hardly a day gone by without having to face violent clashes.This has been the story of policemen on ground. They are now “tired” and reluctant to fight “their own” people.“We do not want to fight against our own people,” said Ayaz Ahmad (name changed), a policeman at Batamaloo. “We do not want to beat people for maintaining law and order. We too are part of this society. We are Kashmiris and do have emotions attached to what is going on.”It has been umpteenth day that Ahmad was put on duty in the volatile Batamaloo area. “Me and my colleagues are tired as a result of overstretched duty. Everyday we are asked to reach the beat at five in the morning, only to be relieved at 8 pm. And if people pelt stones, our duty only extends. We have not changed our uniform, nor do we get time to untie chest and leg pads,” Ahmad said.He said the boys were getting really depressed. “It’s agony for us when we are asked to beat and cane-charge our own people during protests,” he said.The Valley has been on the boil after the killing of 17-year-old Tufail Matoo allegedly in police action on June 11.The anger only grew in dimension with the killing of Rafiq Ahmad Bangroo (23) and Javaid Ahmad Malla allegedly by paramilitary CRPF. The continuous protests across Kashmir since Matoo’s killing resulted in the death of a total 17 youths, including a 25-year-old woman, in firing allegedly by police and CRPF, prompting the authorities to impose curfew and tougher security restrictions.Barely a kilometre away from Batamaloo, Mehmood Ahmad (name changed) was standing guard near a shop adjacent to the intersection at Maisuma. “To maintain law and order is no problem. But the biggest tragedy with us is that we are fighting a sentiment, of which we are a part,” said Mehmood, his colleagues gathering around him as he talked.“If there is killing and injuries, we are upset. We are angry at ourselves. We feel agitated and often want to quit the job,” he added.Ahmad said the problem aggravates when they are at the receiving end of queries from their family members and relatives about the killings. “It’s a mental torture. We feel fed up with this job since it has lost social acceptability. We cannot however give up the job as we are poor people and have children. We want to earn and feed our families. But if we get some other job, we would really think to leave this one.”The field cops said they are on a razor’s edge while delivering their duties. Besides the family, it is extreme pressure from the higher-ups,” Ahmad’s colleague said. “We do not take action on our own. Our officials instruct us. If we won’t use force to disperse people, our officers would take action against us, even suspending us.”However, policemen said sometimes emotions overtake the professional duties.Recalling an incident, a cop stationed near Natipora in city outskirts said, “People were protesting and my emotions overtook me for a while. I was a policeman but my heart went out to them.”A senior most police official said police “cannot be solution to every problem.It can at the most maintain law and order,” he said. “But the problem is political in nature. We want the government to approach the problem politically rather than using iron-fisted policies.”Claiming that this would lead nowhere, he said ”we cannot impose curfew daily. We are doing it for past five weeks. After all we are human beings and are really tired.”

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