Don’t visit home, officials tell cops after wave of attacks targeting policemen

The Jammu & Kashmir administration is telling policemen and Special Police Officers in South Kashmir, which is seeing a wave of attacks against both, to not visit their families or homes.

The advisory comes in the wake of the killings of three SPOs on Friday, and unconfirmed resignations of several others following a warning on Wednesday by Hizbul Mujahedeen commander, Riyaz Naikoo. The killings were in part responsible for India reconsidering its decision to agree to the meeting of the foreign ministers of India and Pakistan in New York later this month.

SPOs, whose main role is in gathering intelligence, and local policemen are soft targets because they do not live in fortified camps like the ones housing members of the army and the Central Reserve Police Force.

On Friday , selection grade constable Nisar Ahmad, SPO Kuldeep Singh and follower, Firdous Kuchay were abducted by militants from Batagund and Kaparan villages early in the morning and killed within hours. Two other policemen in the same villages escaped because they weren’t home when the militants came visiting.

In the past too, there have been occasional advisories asking officers of the J&K police who reside in sensitive areas of south Kashmir to avoid visiting their homes.

“Keeping in view the sensitivity of threats and latest abduction and killings of three policemen, all SPOs and policemen who are from south Kashmir are being told through telephone not to visit their homes,’’ said a police officer familiar with the advisory. “This is being done to save the lives of our men as militants have killed many of our men at their homes when they were not on duty. In the past, many have ignored similar warnings.’’

Since January, 37 policemen have been killed by militants, many when they were off-duty. Last month, on Eid ul Azha, three policemen including an officer, all of whom were on leave and celebrating Eid with their families were killed by militants.

The militants have been targeting SPOs and local policemen whom they hold responsible for the killing of militants, especially in south Kashmir where so-called cordon and search operations are launched on specific information. Officials said that 28 militants were killed in Shopian district alone this year.

The four districts of south Kashmir have more than 3,000 SPOs. Across the state, there are more than 30,000 SPOs.

J&K Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh said soon after the killing of three policemen on Friday that action would be taken against all the militants involved in the killings, and also dismissed the resignations of special police officers as rumors.

So far, over two dozen SPOs have resigned in different parts of south Kashmir.

On August 30, militants abducted 11 police personnel and their family members after the police detained the father of Riyaz Naikoo. However, they were released after the police released Naikoo Sr.