A new clash has broken out in J&K, this time involving words and unlikely opponents. On Wednesday, a senior police officer and an IAS officer, both hailing from the Valley, took each other on in a series of Facebook comments over the death on Tuesday night of 21-year-old Riyaz Ahmad Shah due to pellet injuries.
Shah, who was working as an ATM guard, was killed while on his way home in the old city, with police registering a murder case against unnamed security personnel.
The day after, Ruveda Salam, who hails from the Valley and works under the Ministry of Finance, wrote a post indirectly accusing the ruling PDP, led by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, of “hypocrisy”. Responding in the comments section, SP Sopore, Harmeet Singh Mehta, asked Salam to resign and join the separatists — Mehta also called her an “ignorant lady”.
The war of words continued with Salam accusing Mehta of “gender bias” and pointing to the “the general false belief that all Kashmiris are terrorists”. Mehta responded with a reference to people making “Kashmir as Afghanistan”.
Salam and Mehta subsequently confirmed their Facebook comments to The Indian Express, with the official saying that she had posted her “personal opinion” and the officer insisting that he stood by his views. But around 2 pm on Thursday, minutes after she spoke to this newspaper, Salam deleted her post.
Salam, from Kupwara, was the first woman IPS officer from J&K in 2013 before appearing for the civil services exam again two years later to qualify for the IAS.
In her post, posted at 4.12 pm on Wednesday, she wrote: “From wooing voters while wearing colour #green to painting #red the same valley streets, and then they question the credentials of the same religion whose symbols they used to mask their evil deeds… #hypocrisy couldn’t get worse than this!”
Mehta, a KPS officer from Tral, responded: “Government must take action against you as a civil servant spreading venom against state. Better resign and join some separatist group.”
Replying to Mehta, Salam wrote: “I weigh my each word and whatever I have written are facts… I am pained by the attitude of those who swear by oath to protect innocents and then shy away from assuming responsibility… I didn’t mind the “ignorant lady” comment by one of our worthy Police Officers of J&K, although it was in bad taste & with undertones of gender bias. Writing what you truly feel inside is often snubbed by dictating to you to resign & join separatists, probably, reflecting the general false belief that all Kashmiris are terrorists and they should be either silenced or driven away to the neighbouring country.”
The police officer then asked Salam to talk to those who were pelting stones and check their background. “Let you people make this Kashmir as Afghanistan with your wisdom and that too of the people like you madam civil servant,” he wrote.
Salam shot back, asking who has reached out to the families of those who have been killed and maimed.
When contacted, Mehta said that he “stood by” his views. “She should be taken to task. How can she say that the government is wrong when she is a part of it?” he said. Salam said: “What I have written is my personal opinion.’’
The spat is the latest instance of government representatives or those linked to them voicing opinion about the recent violence in the Valley on social media.