The recent killing of policemen and the abduction of Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel last week strike at the heart of the government-citizenry interface in the state. This alarming trend is particularly accentuated in south Kashmir, which has sent one in every five police personnel recruited by the J&K Police in the last three years.
Official records show that the J&K Police recruited 9,381 policemen from 22 districts in the state, of which 1,647 were from the four districts of south Kashmir — Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam. In addition, close to 2,000 Special Police Officers (SPOs) have been recruited from these districts in just the last two years.
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The J&K Police is the second largest government recruiter in the state, next only to the Education Department, and comprises 31,000 Special Police Officers (SPOs) in addition to the regular forces of over 90,000 men.
While south Kashmir has been the new battlefield of militants, it is also home to over 20,000 police families. Since the emergence of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani as the new face of militancy in 2015, more than 300 youths have joined militant ranks. The number of policemen recruited from these four districts has also surged five-fold.
According to official records, 758 policemen (118 in the armed wing of J&K Police, 312 in the Executive Police and 328 in the Indian Reserve Police battalions) have been recruited from Anantnag district since 2015. In Pulwama, 403 policemen have been recruited – 63 in the armed wing, 166 in the executive police, and 174 in IRP.
And in Shopian, the hotbed of militancy, 187 policemen were recruited – 29 in the armed wing, 77 and 891, respectively, in the executive police and IRP. In Kulgam, where the families of three policemen were abducted last Thursday, 299 youths joined the police force (46 in the armed wing, 123 in executive police and 130 in IRP).
After the massive protests following the killing of Burhan Wani in 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) approved the appointment of 10,000 SPOs in the state. Of these, over 1,800 came from the four districts of south Kashmir.
The attack on the family of policemen is likely to impact fresh recruitment in the police. “In a state where employment is a huge issue, the police are one of the biggest recruiters,” a senior police officer said. “But since the families are now involved, I think many families will discourage their wards from joining the police force.”
Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) SP Vaid, however, does not agree. He said: “It has not affected the police recruitments in the past, why should it now?”