Police running extortion racket: Sitaharan villagers

Nayeem Rather

Budgam: Although Budgam’s Deputy Commissioner, Divisional Forest Officer and Superintendent of Police say there are no fresh reports of timber smuggling in Sitaharan village, Station House Officer of Khag police station has been arresting villagers, who accuse him of detaining them for money.
Last week, Mushtaq Ahmed Mantoo, a labourer, was arrested on charges of timber smuggling.
“The SHO told me that a fresh PSA warrant has been issued against me. I told him to show me the warrant, but he refused. I had to pay Rs 30,000 for my freedom,” he said.
So far, six persons have been told that PSA warrants have been issued against them.
“The police are harassing us and charge us with smuggling. They don’t show us any warrants but arrest us randomly and then demand money for our release,” said Adil Ahmed Sheikh, sarpanch of the village.
When contacted by Kashmir Reader, SHO Parvaiz Ahmad said, “I have orders from the DC and I am implementing them. The DC has issued a fresh list of people last week and I am executing the orders.”
But when asked to name the people and details of cases against them, the SHO said the “information can’t be shared because it is confidential”.
His claims sounded false when DC Mir Altaf, who has the authority to issue PSA warrants, said no fresh report of smuggling has come to his notice.
“The area is smuggling free and my office has issued no PSA warrants in the past two months,” Mir said.
The SHO’s claims were also torn apart by DFO Ghulam Hassan Rafiqi who said that his department has not issued any fresh FIR that would become basis for the arrest of a smuggler.
“I assure you that no smuggling is taking place in the area,” he said.
In fact, the SHO’s boss and Budgam’s SP Fayaz Ahmad Lone said the police have not received any arrest order from either DC or DFO’s office for the past two months.
“I will see why the SHO Khag is then harassing the people. I will take action in this regard,” he added.