A J&K policeman announced that he was quitting the force during a public rally organised by separatists in Behrampora village in Rafiabad, Sopore, on Monday evening, but a senior police officer said that no such resignation has been officially submitted and that the move may have been made under coercion.
On Monday evening, Waseem Ahmad Sheikh — a Special Police Officer (SPO) and driver of a senior police official — appeared at a separatists’ rally attended by hundreds, raised pro-freedom slogans and delivered a short speech, according to witnesses.
“I am telling the people of Behrampora that I returned yesterday. I have left my job. I will not go there again. If somebody has been harmed or hurt by me, I seek forgiveness for that,” said Sheikh.
Sheikh then raised the slogan, ‘hum kya chahte (what do we want)?’ with people responding with ‘azadi’, the witnesses said. He added that he would be a “part of the freedom movement”.
According to those present, Sheikh made the announcement after villagers threw stones at his house and asked his family to motivate him to resign after at least 60 residents were injured in pellet-firing by police and paramilitary on Saturday.
Police, however, said that Sheikh “has not resigned officially”. “He may have been coerced by people to announce his resignation,” SP, Sopore, Harmeet Singh told The Indian Express.
Over the last few weeks, separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani has named several police officers for allegedly “committing excesses” against civilians.
“Many police officers are in a dilemma after the recent protests. This incident could result in more public pressure on policemen in certain areas. We are keeping a watch on it,” said a senior police officer in Srinagar.