Most stations have turned into empty shells being defended by the Army. CRPF is no longer visible in south Kashmir. In places like Aishmuqam in Anantnag, sources in the force said they had been instructed to remain mute spectators while crowds rule the streets. Scores of youth have joined the militants in Tral, where organised training camps are be ing run by top Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed commanders to turn out jihadis, a senior police officer told TOI.
While curfew continued in the valley for the 45th day , authorities deployed BSF in the capital's Lal Chowk area for the first time since 2004. All entry and exit points leading to the Old City -where a youth was killed during Sunday clashes -were sealed by government forces with razor wires, barricades and mobile bunkers. It all began with a mob at tacked a police station at Damhal Hanjipora in Kulgam district in south Kashmir on July 12, during violent protests against the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with the security forces on July 8. The mob bolted with nearly 70 semi-automatic and automatic rifles and took two policemen of Damhal Hanjipora hostage. They were later released, but the guns were never recovered.
“We hope these weapons haven't fallen into the wrong hands. Some local militants were seen carrying weapons in one of the `azadi' rallies in Anantnag,“ a police officer told TOI.
He said sensitive documents and police wireless communication codes too were taken away from the Hanjipora police station. Fearing furious crowds, many policemen have taken shelter in CRPF and Army camps, sources said. “Army men have been deputed to protect police buildings from arsonists and CRPF men have been asked not to patrol the streets to avoid confrontation with the `azadi' screaming crowds,“ another senior police officer said.
The police station Aishmuqam in Anantnag is protected by a company of CRPF and the few policemen inside have been instructed not to venture out. The police post at Tral, Burhan Wani's home town, is shut. The slain militant always issued threats to the Kashmir police in his videos posted on the social sites. Muzaffar Wani, Burhan's father, told TOI on Monday that he would not like to be named as the new icon of protests.
“I am confined to my home ever since my son attained martyrdom,“ Muzaffar said. “I have no ambition to become a leader. I am an ordinary Kashmiri, and wish to remain so.“
In the last 45 days of violence, over 5,000 security men including 3,000-odd policemen have been injured.
In violence-hit Kashmir, if anyone is on the retreat, it is the J&K Police.
An SSP posted in south Kashmir told TOI on Monday that there are reports of attacks on policemen coming from across the disturbed valley. “But what is worse is that nobody is supporting us. The government has abandoned us,“ the officer said. “Everybody is legitimising the voice of separatists. In the 1990s, the police force had collapsed. There are entrenched interests that want the same situation again now.“
The officer added, “Lots of money has been pumped into creating this present situa tion, perhaps hundreds of crores. And then you have separatists identifying brave police officers. We are sitting ducks. But the question to be asked is, who is allowing this?“ Sources in the department said houses of dozens of policemen have been burnt down and that almost every family , especially those of officers, has received threats.
An officer with the CID said, “Our family is our biggest weakness. The CRPF and Army can fight without any fear here as their loved ones are safe back home. But we have ours here. And our enemies know that.“ The CID officer added, “In the 2010 violence, 48 houses of cops were razed. Over 1,400 were injured. It's happening all over again. A head constable was going home to Sopore and was stopped by a group on men in Wadora. They found his uniform in his bag and broke both his hands and legs.“ Policemen say that demoralization and fear runs deep in the force of about 70,000.
The 30,000-odd special police officers (SPO), who are paid a measly stipend of Rs 6,000 a month are in a far more precarious position. They have very little training and given arms.