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Thursday, May 13, 2021

SPO questions Army searches for militants, is slapped with UAPA

Police said the action against the SPO, identified as Saima Akhter, was taken for "glorifying terrorism and obstructing government officials in the discharge of duty".

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Srinagar |
Updated: April 17, 2021 7:42:39 am
SPO questions Army searches for militants, is slapped with UAPAIn the video, the woman from Frisal village of South Kashmir's Kulgam, whose face is not visible, can be heard shouting at Armymen for not sparing the family from searches even during Ramzan, and calling them outsiders.

A day after her video objecting to frequent searches of her house by the Army in South Kashmir went viral, the J&K Police on Friday arrested a Special Police Officer (SPO) under anti-terror laws and terminated her services.

Police said the action against the SPO, identified as Saima Akhter, was taken for “glorifying terrorism and obstructing government officials in the discharge of duty”.

In the video, the woman from Frisal village of South Kashmir’s Kulgam, whose face is not visible, can be heard shouting at Armymen for not sparing the family from searches even during Ramzan, and calling them outsiders.

“Why do you come again and again? Go to the houses where militants are. You don’t even allow us to have our sehri (pre-dawn meal during Ramzan)… If you have to search our house, first remove your shoes,” she shouts. Saying her mother was not well, the woman adds, “If something happens to her, then you will see.”

As an Armyman, who can’t be seen either, shouts back, the woman says they can’t frighten her. “Shut your mouth. We are not going to be scared. This is our Kashmir. You have come from outside. Do whatever you want to do,” the woman says, adding, “If they (militants) had been here, they would have pumped a burst of fire into your heart.”

In an official release, police said security forces conducted the search operation in Frisal on April 14 “on a specific input regarding the presence of terrorists”. “During the search operation, the search party was obstructed by a lady identified as Saima Akhter, a resident of Frisal. The lady resisted the search party and turned violent and uttered statements glorifying the violent actions of terrorists. She captured a video through her personal phone and uploaded it on social media platforms for dissemination with the intent of disrupting the search operation.”

Police said Akhter had been booked under the UAPA at the Yaripora police station and subsequently arrested and removed as SPO “for glorifying terrorism and obstructing government officials in the discharge of their duty”.

While the SPOs were initially appointed in J&K directly by superintendents of police based on the need to maintain law and order, gather intelligence or for counter-militancy activities (women are exempted from the last) in an area, now there is a set procedure for the same. Since 2016, the candidates, who must be between 18 and 28 years of age and have studied till at least Class 10, are appointed by district-level screening committees headed by respective deputy commissioners.

Condemning the charges against Akhter, former Chief Minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti tweeted, “Saima Akhter from Kulgam has been slapped with UAPA for raising legitimate questions about searching her home repeatedly without any reasons. Saima’s ailing mother understandably exacerbated her worries. When it comes to cruelty even women aren’t spared in Naya Kashmir.”

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