CM’s order observed in breach to lend credibility to Geelani
Replacement of extortionist SHOs brings little relief to victims of 2008 madness
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
To the worst of their disappointment, they soon realized that the relief was restricted to only the family members of high profile militant commanders like Syed Salah-ud-din and Burhan-ud-din Hijazi and the ordinary victims of turmoil would continue to suffer. Meraj-ud-din was one among them who approached this newspaper in 2010 with the hope that an intervention would force Police to implement Chief Minister’s order in letter and spirit.
Early Times conducted its own investigation and found this middle aged man completely innocent. During week-long investigation, it surfaced that Meraj-ud-din was among dozens from his locality from whom SHO concerned had collected money by way of harassment and extortion--- Rs 10,000 to Rs 30,000 from those who had been captured on camera while participating in a demonstration or pelting stones on Police and Rs 2,000 to Rs 10,000 from those who were completely innocent and uninvolved. With no history of his---or any of his friends’ or relatives’---involvement with militancy or street turmoil, Meraj-ud-din belonged to category No:2 of the SHO’s targets.
SHO extorted cash worth Rs 2,000 from Meraj-ud-din and permitted him to enjoy freedom. But when the turbulence began rising and SHOs were given free hand to pick up ‘urchins’ at their sweet will, SHO began to demand more from his known victims. Not ready to cough up more, Meraj-ud-din decided to seek the relief Chief Minister had announced on television. Rather than doing a story on the Police extortion, Early Times forwarded Meraj-ud-din’s complaint verbatim to the new SSP of Srinagar, Syed Ashiq Hussain Bukhari.
SSP sought a written and signed application from the complainant and ordered a departmental inquiry without losing a minute. Within two days, it became crystal clear to him that the SHO had extorted a sum of Rs 2,000 from Meraj-ud-din and threatened him with implication in a matter of unlawful activity if he failed to pay another installment of Rs 2,000. Perhaps first time in
, SSP made the SHO not only apologize but also return the amount in full to Meraj-ud-din in presence of his family members, neighbours and other mohalla elders. Within days, SHO Inspector Bashir was removed and shifted to an insignificant posting. Srinagar
Residents of not one but three mohallas gave a written undertaking to SSP that the SHO’s victim Meraj-ud-din was not only a peace-loving citizen, with not an iota of involvement or sympathy with militants, demonstrators or stone pelters but also helpful to all patients in the locality. His father had died 20 years back and he was the bread-earner for his 77-year-old mother and three children. His eldest daughter, Shafqat, was a Class 11th student and youngest son, Adil, a class 9th student but 17-year-old daughter, Saboo---a mentally deranged---was the veritable liability.
When complainant Meraj-ud-din refused to succumb to continued threats and harassment of the extortionist SHO and he did not withdraw his charges, the Inspector moved out disgracefully but not before inserting Meraj-ud-din’s name in as many as three FIRs. A year later, Meraj-ud-din learned last week that he was still a “wanted stone pelter” as the departmentally indicted and punished SHO had put his name among a group of 12 ‘urchins’. Even after learning about Meraj-ud-din’s innocence and the indicted SHO’s guilt, SSP as well as new SHO are now helpless.
“We are aware that he is innocent and, in fact, a victim of previous SHO’s excesses but we can’t release him until he gets bail from a court of law”, the incumbent SHO asserted. He confirmed that there was neither a verbal evidence nor a photograph or video or any other material evidence of Meraj-ud-din’s involvement in any unlawful activity. Meraj’s colleagues in Budgam district insist he attended duty even on the worst turbulent days and curfew in 2008 as well as 2010.
Even after his continuing as a victim of Police atrocity, Meraj’s family members, relatives and neighbours describe the new SSP as well as the new SHO as “angels”.
“We have for the first time seen the human face of Police. Previous SHO was more cruel than Gabbar Singh. He arrested scores of innocent men like Meraj-ud-din, extorted money from them without anybody’s fear. He would publicly tear out the bail orders and manhandle the detainees. Things changed completely when new SSP and new SHO took over. Until last year, Police Station was like a slaughter house for us.When we enter the Police station today, we feel we are entering our home. Everybody is incredibly kind and compassionate. We must be proud of such Police officers”, detainee Meraj-ud-din’s relative Bashir Ahmed and 30-year-long friend Mohammad Shafi, both small time businesspersons, maintained.
They said that
has witnessed a watershed since the day Government removed many of the old rankers, known for their cruelty and corruption, and appointed young, highly educated Inspectors and Sub Inspectors as SHOs. “This is a wonderful lot. Almost all of them are hardworking, humane, merciful, professional and committed against corruption and traditional Police atrocities”, they echoed the popular perception in a downtown locality on the road to Hazratbal. Srinagar
Contrary to Bashir Ahmed’s and Mohammad Shafi’s observation, Hurriyat (G) Chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani, in his yesterday’s statement, described J&K Police officers as “cruel, corrupt, unprofessional, guilty of jailing innocent youth, involved in custodial killings”. He is incontrovertibly right as long as Inspectors like Bashir exist as SHOs in J&K Police. But, neither Bashir nor Geelani should worry as this coalition government has neither history nor habit of taking cognizance of newspaper stories!