Kavita Suri

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Changing face of ‘policing’ in Jammu region

Seeking cooperation ‘from your friendly neighbourhood’ 

Imagine cops on motor bikes chasing trans-border smugglers, harbourers of militants and intruders on the 210-km long International Border (IB) in Jammu division. But that is what Jammu region (which is increasingly being targetted by Pakistani mercenaries now) is going to witness if all the plans made by the Jammu police to counter militancy would be implemented.  Increased security threat to Jammu district from the Pakistan-backed terrorists who have now changed their “modus operandi”, the state police has now decided to reactivate itself and adopt new multiple strategies to crush the monster head of militancy whose arc has been extended to this once peaceful region. Forced to act in view of the six militancy-related incidents that have taken place in Jammu in the last three months (ending August 2001) including the Railway station killings, the Jammu police has come out with a novel idea of increased participation of people in security-related matters. Though in Kashmir, such an idea could never take shape due to the demographic pattern, Jammu however has totally different demographic structure and topography . As the people are not the sympathisers of the militants as was the case in Kashmir in the initial years of militancy and the villages are thickly populated right up to the International Border , the Police has decide to actively involve the people of Jammu district to fight increasing militancy in the region. For this, police is going to set up Neighbouring Watch Committees, Community Mohalla committees etc and they are extremely hopeful of getting desired results.. As Pakistan gameplan is to change the status of International Border to disturbed one, it has been trying desperately to push in large number of mercenaries through the International Border also. But the Police is trying to get it curbed with the cooperation of people. Hence these committees.  Even the recent successes of large number of intruders at the International Border were primarily due to the inputs given by the locals who had observed movement of mercenaries on the IB. 

The militants are increasingly  making attempts to infiltrate, commit acts of sabotage (mostly carrying with them explosive kit with the instructions to put it anywhere ) and then return to Pakistan. The trans-border smugglers help them as guides and couriers. Militants from hinterland like Kashmir valley and Doda are also continuously trying to create hideouts in Jammu and then with the help of harbourers carry out acts of terrorist violence and sabotage. As these militants are now coming in small groups which is part of their new strategies, Jammu police is also trying to function in small groups. The task of neutralising the harbourers or the over ground workers or sympathisers of the militants has already been taken in hand.  The SSP Jammu says : ‘Our idea is to involve community in preventive policing as public can best help in tackling this ever-increasing problem. We have already convened various Police-Community Partnership Group meetings at various levels which have strengthened police public relations and played positive role in acquiring public support in prevention and detection of militancy and crime.’ Not only this, the Jammu police is also thinking to involve the recently constituted panchayats in the Jammu areas so that they can go for recci and then help the police in finding out the infiltration routes of the militants following by putting Nakas. Village Defence Committees are also being reoriented in brder areas in an offensive mode. The scheme is to further strengthen the VDCs and the properly equip the VDC members with weaponary and communication network to work more effficiently and effectively.   “Afterall, Jammu is becoming the target of the militants and we should be prepared to face any kind of situation. Besides, we should also know as how to respond to such situations,” he said adding that they are going to  have small teams like community mohalla structures particularly in the outskirts which can come out at the extra-ordinaory situations. These, he said, would be on the pattern of the  VDCs but no arms would be given to them.    

Regarding the other measures taken to check militancy in the region, Mr Swain said besides reactivating beat system, 40 armed mobile patrol parties have been formed to patrol in various areas of Jammu city during vulnerable  hours. Flying squads have been rebuilt and well-trained and alert officials have been deployed with the flying squads so that they can retaliate or repulse any militant of fidayeen attack at any point of time. Nakas have also been strengthened and guard personnel have been fully alerted, he added. 

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