The J&K Police Friday said that Special Police Officers (SPOs) joining militant ranks was not becoming a trend. However, the force ordered a high-level inquiry behind the phenomenon.
The development comes a day after two SPOs – Shabir Ahmad of Pulwama and Salman of Shopian – deserted district police lines Pulwama to join militancy. Both were killed in an overnight gunfight with security forces along with two other Jaish-e-Muhammad militants on Friday morning.
“SPOs joining militant ranks is not a trend. It is more of an aberration,” a top police officer, who is part of the counter insurgency grid in Kashmir, told Greater Kashmir. He said this has happened in the past also, “but the police force never allowed it to become a trend.”
The officer said a high level internal probe has been ordered to find out the reasons behind the two SPOs joining militancy. “There will be thorough investigation for sure,” he said, wishing not to be named.
A source in the police said that even though there is “proper mechanism” to keep an eye on the movement of SPOs, a few more steps will be taken to ensure “any bid by SPOs to desert their wings and units along with their service riffles is plugged completely.” “Their monitoring will be increased and procedure to leave their wings or units will be made more strict,” he said.
Last year, two major incidents of weapons loot in Srinagar had sent the entire security apparatus into a tizzy. The investigations into both incidents pointed out the role of SPOs. In the first incident that occurred at the official residence of former PDP legislator Aijaz Mir, NIA probe established the role of Mir’s SPO Adil Bashir, who along with other Hizbul Mujahideen militants managed to decamp with seven rifles of Mir’s security guards. SPO Adil had also managed to take away personal pistol of Mir. Adil had later posed with a group of Hizbul Mujahideen militants in a photograph shared on social media.
In the second incident at the official residence of Congress legislator Muhammad Muzaffar Parray, four AK-47 rifles were stolen and later the role of one of his personal security guards was established. In the wake of two major incidents, the security wing of police had ordered withdrawal of the security cover of all the protected persons protected by the SPOs. A series of guidelines were issued to SPOs to plug the weapon snatching by them and one of the major directions was that all the vehicles used by SPOs and the Personal Security Officers (PSOs) for travel will have a micro-chip so that they remain under the radar of police.
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