govt likely to withdraw extra security of politicians
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government led by Governor Narendra Nath Vohra is likely to withdraw “extra security” of all the political leaders, including the ministers in the previous BJP-PDP coalition government. The downgrading of security comes for the first time after the BJP pulled out of the coalition government, leading to the eighth governor’s rule of state.
The moves comes amidst political turmoil in the state, with more PDP leaders joining a disgruntled group of MLAs who have raised their voices against the leadership of party president Mehbooba Mufti for failing to deliver governance on ground and promoting dynasty rule over the interests of people of the border state.
A top officer in Jammu and Kashmir police said they are reviewing the security of political leaders and former ministers on categorisation basis afresh and there will be no disparities between leaders belonging to the different political parties.
Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP
“In Jammu, the security situation is completely different and the environment is safer, but in Kashmir valley, we are reviewing the security of previous ministers and political leaders. It also depends on threat perception to them,” ADGP Law & Order, SDRF & Security Wing, Munir Ahmed Khan, told Firstpost over phone.
Khan said the review will take place very soon and “additions or subtraction” will be done accordingly. The security of the previous ministers, many of whom still move around with their security escort, is likely to be made equal to that of MLAs.
Sources said the PDP-BJP government had issued fresh bullet proof cars and mobile jammers to few ministers. Intelligence agencies had received information about a possible attack on one of them, as the security situation kept worsening in the Valley in the backdrop of Burhan Wani’s killing.
After the killing of Rising Kashmir editor and peace activist Shujaat Bukhari, many journalists in Kashmir valley had also petitioned the government to provide them security, arguing that there was a threat to their lives on the basis of anonymous posts on social media and blogs that described them as “traitors” and “stooges of New Delhi”.
After an uprising broke out in Kashmir against the killing of Burhan Wani, thousands of political workers, most of them belonging to the PDP, had to flee their homes. They are presently living in guest houses and accommodation provided by the state government in Srinagar and elsewhere.
In the last three years, many political workers of different mainstream political parties have been killed by suspected militants in Kashmir. These workers were described by them as “eyes and ears of the Indian state” in the violence wracked Valley. In recent years, their lives have been turned upside down, particularly after the killing of Burhan Wani.
In south Kashmir, these grassroots political workers have become easy targets for militants in recent years, who appear in their homes late at night and make videos of them wherein they are seen begging for mercy from the militants and disassociating from their political activities. These videos later make their way to social media platforms such as Facebook where they serve as a warning for other people to keep away from mainstream political parties and their activities.
A PDP worker, who is stationed at a run down hotel in Srinagar after militants showed up at his house in South Kashmir, said that if the security of political workers is taken away, they will become vulnerable to militant attacks.
“You have to understand that it is not a big leader who gets killed by militants but a small foot soldier on the ground like me. Such a move will be catastrophic for not only us but the idea of democracy as well,” the worker, who hails from the restive Pulwama district, said.
However, a top police officer said the security agencies will reassess the level of threat perception to the mainstream political leaders and activists, taking into consideration the prevailing situation in Kashmir after which any decision will be taken.
“It will not be an arbitrary exercise. Various agencies are involved, who will meticulously assess the level of threat perception and then only decide on the level of security that the political leaders and activists require,” the officer said.