State intelligence chief SM Sahai says protests and casualties occurred in places where police least expected trouble
A Aalim Ahmad
Srinagar: In her capacity as the home minister of Jammu and Kashmir, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti had the knowledge of Kokernag operation that killed Hizbul Mujahideen’s divisional commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani along with his two associates.
This was stated by state’s Intelligence chief Shiv Murari Sahai at a press conference hurriedly convened to elaborate the state’s version on the dance of death that continued in Kashmir Valley on Saturday during unprecedented protests over the death of the militant leader in the 27 years of Kashmir’s armed insurgency.
“The chief minister being the home minister is informed of all the activities,” Sahai said.
Sahai dismissed suggestions that Burhan was killed in custody or was not offered any chance to give in during the encounter.
“Two of our men received bullet wounds in the encounter,” he said.
“If the militants can be arrested, they should be arrested,” he said.
He was asked as to why the encounter was not prolonged when the house was zeroed in and the militants were spotted. The police officer did not give details about the weapons recovered from the slain militants.
Flanked by Inspector general of Police (Kashmir range) Javed Gilani, Sahai confirmed that eight persons have died in action against “unruly mobs that attacked security forces, civil, police establishments and vital installations throughout the Valley”.
Sahai said that the protests and clashes erupted in “isolated pockets and fringes”, apparently trying to explain why government forces couldn’t sense the gravity of the protests.
“I cannot say it was miscalculation. We envisaged the epicentre would be Tral where two militants have to be buried. The epicentre where we expected trouble was managed properly. The more intense protests happened at isolated pockets or fringes,” Sahai said.
He said the most serious attack was on the police station in Damhal Hanjipora where the mob set afire the building and looted weaponry.
“They used the same weapons against our men by taking 20 of them hostage,” Sahai said.
“Three of them were injured and three are still missing,” he said.
Sahai is the senior most police officer in absence of police chief K Rajindra, who is on leave.
His press conference indicates that he has been given the charge to oversee the law and order situation. Sahai was provincial police chief in Kashmir during the 2008 anti-India uprising.
Sahai said the police station in Achabal, tehsil office in Kokernag and police post in Kund Qazigund were set on fire. The camps located at Sangam, Larnoo, Seer, Gopalpora, Mattan, Kokernag, Dooru and Janglat Mandi is Islamabad were also attacked. In Kokernag, the residence of the local MLA was also set afire.
In Pulwama, Sahai said, militants carried out an attack on the District Police Lines.
Sahai said that all the districts witnessed “violent incidents” but maintained that the protests in north Kashmir were subdued as compared to the south Kashmir ones. He said that protesters attacked various spots where police-protected minority habitations were located. He said the protesters attacked Hall village in Shopian and set some abandoned houses on fire.
Sahai said that he would not draw parallels between the summer agitations of 2008 and 2010 and the situation currently prevailing in Kashmir. He said that the situation would be properly analyzed. “Our focus is that the situation returns to normal as soon as possible,” he said. “There are certain troublesome pockets and we will gear up to prevent any escalations,” Sahai said.
“Our non-lethal weaponry is better than we earlier had and we will use it adequately to prevent any further loss of human life.”