Ungrateful profiling of Kashmiri officers

Cops seethe at Kathua innuendo

By MUZAFFAR RAINA in Srinagar
  • Published 19.04.18
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An amulet hangs from a padlock at the house of the brutalised child in 
Kathua (AFP)

Srinagar: Kashmiri police officers are making public their outrage at religious profiling by those seeking to insinuate that a fair probe into the rape and murder of a girl at Kathua in Jammu is not possible until the case is handed over to the CBI.

Some officers have expressed dismay - some on record - at groups in Jammu and outside questioning their credentials to conduct a fair probe, although the police force has braved high risk to array itself at the forefront of the fight against militancy.

Ruveda Salam, the first woman IPS officer from Kashmir, appeared distraught over how religion had been dragged in.

She posted on Facebook: "Though I am a born Muslim, considering the way religions are used as an excuse by people of all faiths for their vested interests, if I am given a choice to choose any of these religions including mine, I would choose none!"

An officer from Kashmir police's crime branch underscored the double standard of the Jammu protesters. "We are heroes when we take on militants but the same people dig up our religion when we act against those who violate the law but are from a different faith," he told The Telegraph.

"The tragedy is that several officers who are part of the investigation are not Muslim but when it comes to such cases, these people portray the entire force as Muslim. The fact is we don't bring religion into our profession," the crime branch officer added.

The crime branch has been at the receiving end of a backlash from politicians and lawyers in Jammu ever since it arrested a prayer hall caretaker and his associates on the charge of raping and murdering the eight-year-old girl in Kathua.

Several groups in Jammu and outside favour a CBI probe as they claim innocent people have been framed. A perception does exist in the Kashmir Valley that these groups believe the CBI will be lenient on the accused.

"Such is the situation that at times we can't even visit our homes," the officer said, referring to last year's directive by Jammu and Kashmir police chief S.P. Vaid asking policemen to exercise "extreme caution" while visiting their homes. Several policemen had been killed while they were on home leave in 2016.

Javaid Mujtaba Gilani, a 1994-batch IPS officer who was the face of the security force crackdown on protests that broke out following Hizb commander Burhan Wani's death in 2016, seemed incensed.

"We live in bizarre times. A bunch of lawyers protest on the streets demanding a CBI probe into a rape-and-murder case. When the investigating agency goes to file the chargesheet in the case, the lawyers stop them from doing so," he wrote on Facebook.

"The investigation is monitored by the high court and yet none of these lawyers approach the high court and put forth their case for a CBI probe. If the investigating agency has framed wrong persons, shouldn't the lawyers be defending those accused in the trial court rather than protesting on the streets?" the post added.

Shah Faesal, the only Kashmiri to top the civil service examination, expressed indignation at the protests by the Jammu lawyers. "Outside Jammu High Court,... I saw a group of black coats, led by a woman lawyer, sloganeering atop a load-carrier.... They waved the Tricolour and played patriotic songs like ' Dil diya hai jaan bhi denge, ai watan tere liye', and ' Sandese aate hain'. I bear witness and plead guilty for seeing a pro-rape rally and doing nothing about it," he wrote on Facebook.