Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Broadsword interview: Shiv Murari Sahai, IG Police (Kashmir)




As riots spread uncontrollably across the Kashmir valley during the summer of 2010, Shiv Murari Sahai was brought back from Delhi as Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir. Having restored a measure of calm over the last 20 months, Sahai talks to AJAI SHUKLA about the situation today.

Sahai is an unusual policeman, and immensely popular with his men. He keeps Roza (fast) during Ramzan, and is guardian to a young Kashmiri boy, the son of his personal security officer (PSO) who died in 2004. Through his widely visited Facebook site Sahai engages directly with the Kashmiri youth.


Q.            What is the security situation in Kashmir today?

Militancy has reduced dramatically. In 2011, we wiped out the entire leadership of several militant organisations and they have not been able to replace them. But the AK-47 has been replaced by the pistol, the grenade and the IED, which are used by recycled militants who join forces with radicalized young boys. That combination is becoming a great challenge.

Q.            Can you explain that?

Our problem today is a radicalized youth bulge. Some 50% of the population is between the ages of 13 and 25. With so many youngsters, parental and societal checks have failed… the elders are unable to restrain them. A similar youth bulge has fuelled the radicalization of agitations in the Middle East. That is happening here too, because the separatist leadership draws inspiration from there.

Besides, there are some 25,000 released militants walking the streets of Kashmir. These people have been released after completing prison terms, or are out on bail. They are not ideologically compromised, like the surrendered militants, who are less of a problem. They spread anti-state sentiment to the new generation. We have to absorb them into the mainstream before they radicalize the next generation.

Q.            What fuels this radicalisation…?

The problem was sparked in 2008 when street violence, which had become history, resurfaced. It was not a political issue, but an emotional issue… the controversy over the Amarnath shrine land, and Jammu’s blockade of the valley created a grievance that still persists. And the separatists realized how street protests could be effectively used.

Again, in 2010, our inability to take action on the Machhil encounter (which was exposed as a fake encounter) created a chain reaction of agitation and deaths. A street protest would lead to a death (in police firing) and that led to another protest, which led to more firing. It didn’t help that 120 people were killed in 2010.

Q.            How do you deal with this?

We have shifted our approach towards much greater youth engagement. I’ve sent the government a policy paper for rehabilitating released militants and absorbing them into society. I’ve done rallies with the released militants and probed into their problems.

The 25,000 released militants have low employability, little education, no capacity, no training, but they have a big attitude. If they open a shop and a customer throws back something at them, they will not be able to take it. They’re used to toting an AK-47 and being the boss of all they survey. They agree that they have this problem. But we are engaging them.

Q.            What are the elements of your new strategy?

Firstly, the youngsters who have not broken the law should not feel that preference is being given to those who committed crimes. While upholding the cause of the law-abiding citizen, I have proposed individual counselling for released militants. Their needs are individual, there is not some overarching general need.

What they want is respect. We have already stopped requiring them to lodge attendance in police stations whenever there is tension. This was humiliating for them. Instead, they have been organised into NGOs, and the NGO in charge of a released militant accounts for him.

We will start recommending the kin of released militants for the issuance of passports. Earlier, we were not recommending them. As for the released militants themselves, we will provide verification to them when they need it for getting a job, but not for government service.

Q.            Does Pakistani meddling continue?

Pakistanis today have much less capacity. And with the local militant leadership decimated, it is getting more difficult to infiltrate fighters into Kashmir.

Q.            What about public support to militancy?

Today the militant is not a full-time fighter with pride in his uniform… he is more a part time terrorist. And released militants all say they have low social acceptability. At a recent rally they admitted that their neighbours now look down on them. For the young, impressionable man who became a militant, it is a life destroyed.


11 comments:

Anonymous said...

sir ,
can u plzz provide the link to mr. sahai's FB page ?

thank you

Mr. Ra said...

Shri Sahai must be doing something good and should be encouraged further.

Pratik Das said...

Great article! Thanks for the insights.

The challenge, obviously, is in trying to distinguish the genuinely misled, the ones willing to give society a second chance, from the likes of Kasab who play innocent on cue and appeal to their captor's emotions with every intention of betrayal if given half a chance.

Anonymous said...

Shukla, When you write such articles, I feel proud to be an Indian...Uttam...atee uttam.. Aapko hum jalebi zaroor khilayenge...

a kashmiri said...

I am a kashmiri...want to know what we discuss at home, with the neighbours and others? It is always about freedom from indian occupation. Do we ever see our selves accepting indians...yes as neighbours but not as our overlords. Islam is not only our deen but our creed. Is there a kashmiri who considers indian soliders as our own...over our dead bodies!

The youth has more in common with people of middle east/pakistan than anywhere in india. We look to the middle east, central asia, pakistan with pride. We have never looked to india with pride and never will...irrespective of how rich indians may become.

Anonymous said...

@kashmiri said,

When I read that comment "we look to middle east, central Asia, pakistan with pride". One thing strikes me, that you are a genuinely a Islamist trying to pose like a kashmiri. Actually kashmiris want peace, and they will get it under the Indian constitution, come what may. The plight of kashmiris in Azad kashmir is well documented. So, you can keep this rant to your folks back in Pakistan, thank you for your hatred towards India.

Anonymous said...

>>
I am a kashmiri...want to know what we discuss at home, with the neighbours and others? It is always about freedom from indian occupation. Do we ever see our selves accepting indians...yes as neighbours but not as our overlords. Islam is not only our deen but our creed. Is there a kashmiri who considers indian soliders as our own...over our dead bodies!

The youth has more in common with people of middle east/pakistan than anywhere in india. We look to the middle east, central asia, pakistan with pride. We have never looked to india with pride and never will...irrespective of how rich indians may become.
<<

More Purer than the pure Muslim. Shows that you are a recent convert. You are so "insecure/paranoid" about your religion, that you have become a mentally challenged individual. Guess what - Pack your bags and move to Saudi Barbaria or Pakistan.

American Desi said...

@ a kashmiri

What are you finding in Pakistan to be proud of? And in the Middle East--that you, like Pakistanis, will be called "Blackie" and paid less for same work? Shame on you.

American Desi

Anonymous said...

Kashmiri's and its youth must look to do something for themselves and the community. Instead they only think of violence. It must be coming from their religion. A religion that preaches violence.
Why don't the Kashmiri's themselves look to create jobs and do something productive ?

The other point is abt reducing the terrorist activities in Kashmir. A lot has to do with Afghanisthan and the decimation of the terrorist leadership there. Indian army should look into cutting off the funds and the decimate the leadership of terrorist organizations. Be firm and be stong. Anyone who promotes these activities will be dealt with a heavy hand. This is the only message that the terrorists and budding terrorists understand.

maverick said...

Actually Col. Shukla, that is one of the better news items I have seen about Kashmir.

If one can gradually make the Kashmiri locals see us as brothers not enemies - then there is a chance that we will be able to overcome the ravages of the last few decades of violence.

I think officers like Sri. Sahai are doing a good job of restoring the image of the J&K Police as a real police force.

I am afraid that while strong enforcement techniques are necessary in an insurgency situation, they do not endear the police force to the people and breed hostility.

It may take decades for Kashmiri society to heal but like Punjab it will come around.

Anonymous said...

dude why cant u liberate these youth then they would have no reason to be pissed.... hey what the f.. u think u cia.. make me sign in to leave post.. this freee world why you not understand this..