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Structural police overhaul likely in J&K amid killings | India News

NEW DELHI: A structural overhaul of the J&K security apparatus to ensure that the best police personnel are identified, put through short, specialised training courses and posted as station house officers and other key staff at the thana level for better grassroot policing was among the key strategies discussed at a review meeting chaired by home minister Amit Shah here on Friday in the wake of recent “soft target” killings in the Valley.
The back-to-back meetings taken by Shah on J&K security and preparations for the upcoming Amarnath Yatra — attended by J&K LG Manoj Sinha, NSA Ajit Doval, the home secretary, heads of IB and RAW, Army and central paramilitary brass and senior officers of the Centre and J&K administration — also decided to beef up security for the annual yatra. The measures include deployment of additional Army units and central forces, use of drones for surveillance, placing snipers along the route, use of bulletproof armoured “pilot” vehicles in yatra convoys with mechanism to neutralise threats such as sticky bombs and 24×7 monitoring of movement of yatris and security personnel, who will have radio frequency tags, from the integrated control room in Srinagar.
“Contingency plans are being drawn up for all possible eventualities. There are several threats to the yatra but the security agencies are fully prepared,” a senior functionary told TOI.
The recent killings of low-value targets, largely by pistol-wielding youths who are not yet on police or intelligence radar and have emerged as a new breed of “hybrid” terrorists who stage one-off attacks on easy targets and then mingle back into the society, are being seen as an organised attempt to derail the Amarnath Yatra. It was noted that “identified” terrorists are now resorting to this proxy arrangement with “hybrid terrorists” as they may be finding it difficult to hit high-value targets. “The attacks on soft targets reflect the desperation of terrorists. Just like we have brought down major attacks, these attacks on soft targets will also be tackled with a change in strategy,” said an officer.
The new strategy, as per sources, could include detaining local trouble-makers and petty criminals and terror sympathisers for questioning over the next few days, as was done in October 2021 when a similar pattern of civilian killings was seen. Arrests will be made where there is evidence. If needed, preventive detentions can also be made under the Public Safety Act.
Meanwhile, officials revealed that the purpose behind reorienting the J&K Police set-up is to ensure that beat-level, law & order duties get their due importance. The strength of the thana staff, many of whom are engaged in naka/bandobast or VIP duties, will be raised by dipping into the reserve force and training them for specialised police functions. So while the SHOs focus on basic policing, including keeping track of neighbourhood trouble-makers and ground intelligence gathering, dedicated personnel can be put on investigation duty to get to the bottom of the cases relating to recent killings. “The pistol-wielding youths who stage the attacks on soft targets are just the tip of the iceberg. Investigation needs to identify the terrorists handlers who lured them into executing the attack, often with money or drugs. Also, the source and movement of pistols used in the attack will have to be tracked. The entire terror ecosystem needs to be dismantled,” said a J&K government functionary.