Civil administration officials in Kashmir’s Pulwama are up in arms against the district police. They allege that the police are not honouring curfew passes issued to officials on emergency duty and are assaulting said officials. The police have dismissed the allegations saying they were “exaggerated”.
While several officers have shot off complaint letters to their seniors, many have raised the issue with the district administration.
The officials, which include officers on magisterial duty, have also raised the matter in an official WhatsApp group, saying it is becoming difficult for them to perform their duties.
“Magistracy, or for that matter any other COVID-related duty is as important as policing in this hour of crisis. A food department official sent to fetch food items for a migrant labourer camp in Pampore and carrying a valid pass was beaten up near Circle Road Pulwama, even after I spoke to PCR Pulwama,” reads one of the complaint posts on the group. “Even after letting a policeman know that I am Tehsildar Pampore and proceeding to attend a meeting at Pulwama, I was warned not to move without pass at Circle Road by policemen. I strongly feel there is an urgent need to counsel and impart necessary instructions to the policemen on ground,” reads another post.
In a written complaint to the Pulwama Deputy Commissioner on Friday, an Executive Magistrate alleged that he was stopped by the police and his driver was assaulted at his place of posting. “My vehicle was forcibly stopped in the presence of some police officers, who was there in BP (bullet proof) vehicles with a flag. My driver was ruthlessly beaten. I pleaded with the police that I am on duty in this very chowk (square) and he is my driver, but they didn’t listen,” the Magistrate has written in his compliant.
Another official said the police behaviour had seriously impacted delivery of essential services in the district. “Yesterday (Thursday), at 7.45 PM, the driver of official vehicle allotted to Naib Tehsildar Rajpora was beaten by police at Tahab chowk while going back from Awantipora. Sir, it is extremely difficult for us to perform our duties in this hour of crisis given the fear psychosis that has engulfed our officers/officials,” the official said.
“Police is doing a great job and is one of the most important organisations in our administrative setup but they can’t do everything themselves. Magistrates, doctors, other essential service employees have to reach their place of work to manage the crisis due to pandemic,” a complaint added.
In another complaint posted on the group, an official said that because of police behaviour, personnel posted at a quarantine centre were unable to access the facility. “I was entrusted with the job of establishing and providing all the logistics to quarantine centres. Accordingly, the staff of the Tehsil office Pulwama was put on the job and they remained available 24×7. But unfortunately, from last two days some of them weren’t allowed to reach their places of deployment and one of them was beaten up yesterday (Thursday),” said the complaint.
Reacting to the allegations, Pulwana Superintendent of Police Asish Mishra, said they were “exaggerated versions”. But when one officer on the WhatsApp group narrated another instance where he was stopped and asked to turn back despite “having a (curfew) pass and disclosing my identity”, SP Mishra replied: “CrPC has provisions”.
A senior official claimed SP Mishra had also dishonoured curfew passes. “He (SP) himself tore down valid passes and in a reply (on the WhatsApp group) he justified beating people and officials citing the CrPC,” he said.
To this Misrha said, “There is nothing as such. All these (complaints) are false and frivolous.”
“There is nobody who is has a curfew pass and is not allowed to move,” he added.
Another official called for a change in the police behaviour. “Time to differentiate between the idea of lockdown in a pandemic and that of a law and order situation,” he said. “Restrictions are reasonable, (but) muscle power shouldn’t demoralise the clan working in precarious situations. Complaints are pouring in from all across the district,” he added.
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