Police seek more SPOs, the ‘canon fodder’ of insurgency

Police seek more SPOs, the ‘canon fodder’ of insurgency

SRINAGAR: At a time when the Jammu and Kashmir Police have advertised for the recruitment of 10,000 special police officers (SPOs), clearly to undermine the anti-India uprising in Kashmir, a look at the previous recruited SPOs shows that only 14 percent of them have been regularised.
According to state government figures, 3,331 SPOs have been given regular jobs as constables/followers against the overall number of 23,828 SPOs recruited in the past years in the state.
According to the document, the top priority for giving a regular job to an SPO, who is otherwise paid an honorarium, is “good performance in counter insurgency operations”, followed by performance in sports and the qualification of an ITI diploma.
In the new advertisement of the J&K Police, newly recruited SPOs are promised a monthly pay of Rs 5,000, which a year later would be increased to Rs 5,500. After three years of service, the salary would become Rs 6,000 per month.
Before January 2016, SPOs were paid a monthly sum of Rs 3,000 that was enhanced from Rs 1,500 a few years ago.
Professor of law at the Central University of Kashmir, Dr Sheikh Showkat terms the hiring as unconstitutional, because the Supreme Court of India in the Salwa Judum case said that hiring private groups for counter-insurgency operations was “unlawful”.
“Unfortunately, former chief minister Omar Abdullah has said the ruling does not apply to Kashmir, which is absurd. SPOs are mostly used as cannon fodder in counter insurgency operations,” the professor said.
In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled as illegal and unconstitutional the deployment of tribal youths as special police officers — either as ‘Koya Commandos’, Salwa Judum, or any other force — in the fight against Maoist insurgency and ordered their immediate disarming.
Showkat said that whenever there has been an insurgency in Kashmir, there is a move to create new formations of recruits.
“If we look at history,” he said, “after the eruption of insurgency in 1947 and 1948 against the Maharaja and then against the Indian state, a force was created called the peace brigade, which Kashmiris sarcastically called khoftan faqir. In 1965, a home guard was created. In the 1990s, VDCs (village defence committees) and SPOs were created.
“In the present situation, the state anticipates an insurgency on a big scale, so they have started the process again. As one of the basic rules for the promotion is performance in insurgency operations, it makes some of the SPOs go for extra-judicial killings. This entire process is messy,” Showkat opined.
Professor Siddiq Wahid, former vice-chancellor of Islamic University, said the recruitment was a case of exploiting the unemployment in Kashmir. It also proved that the government was willing to overlook the Supreme Court ruling in the Salwa Judum case because this is “convenient” to them.

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