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Tough cop out in Mufti shuffle

Srinagar, May 19: Bowing to pressure from his Cabinet colleagues, Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has shifted the high-profile director-general of police, A.K. Suri, and the home secretary in a sweeping shuffle.

The DGP had become the target of a group of senior ministers, who wanted him out six months ago when the present government took office.

Suri, considered a tough officer with strong views on tackling insurgency, was in the thick of a controversy during the Assembly elections last year on the issue of the deployment of the feared Special Operations Group. The Election Commission had directed that the force be kept under restrain during the polls.

The Special Operations Group, reviled in the Valley for its high-handed approach, was disbanded after Mufti took over as chief minister.

Speculation was rife then that the police chief, brought in by Mufti’s predecessor Farooq Abdullah, had reservations about the dissolution of the force.

Suri proceeded on leave immediately after the Cabinet announced the shuffle in the police today. An official spokesman here said that “orders of the new posting of A.K. Suri shall be issued separately after he returns from leave”.

The group of ministers had yesterday met here and had mounted pressure on the chief minister to order the shake-up.

In the civil administration, M.M. Bhat, home secretary, has been transferred and posted as secretary to government school education.

After a three-hour Cabinet meeting today, it was announced that the additional DGP of the State Armed Police, Gopal Sharma, would head Jammu and Kashmir police.

The new DGP has the image of a “gentleman cop” and his elevation is expected to come in handy for Mufti’s healing touch policy.

The Cabinet also ordered the shifting of the state intelligence chief, additional director-general of police Kuldeep Khuda. Khuda will replace Sharma as the chief of the State Armed Police.

Additional director-general of police Ashok Bhan will be the new state intelligence chief, replacing Khuda.

Additional director-general of police Madan Lal has been shifted and he will head the state security wing.

Farooq Ahmad, deputy inspector-general of police, Kashmir range, has been transferred to the Jammu range while DIG north Kashmir range Mohammad Amin Shah will replace Ahmad.

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