‘Huriyat Tries To Influence Us To Seek Release Of Their Leaders’
Tasked with challenging roles from time to time, Dr. Harmeet Singh Mehta, Sopore Police Superintendent and senior KPS officer often hogs headlines in media for his daredevil acts and controversies. From his previous stints as counter-insurgency cop in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district to crackdown on illicit drug trade in North Kashmir’s Sumbal region, the officer in his professional circle is known for his taking daring challenges. In a face to face with Adnan Dar and Amanjeet Singh of The Legitimate Harmeet Singh Mehta makes some candid confessions and discloses the spirit of his professional success.
TL: You have been very active in dealing with militancy in your career. What motivates you for taking this challenge? Any experience of moment when you had a close shave?
HSM: When we take the oath, we convince ourselves that anytime, anything can happen. Every moment there is danger of being attacked. A secret, I can tell you I generally never think over such matters. Anyone can die anytime and a police officer is not an exception. Some say this is a professional hazard, but after all, when pride of nation is at stake, personnel life matters less. No issue with that.
TL: 2016 massive unrest against the killing of top militant commander Burhan Wani, thousands of people ppured on streets everywhere, Sopore, a hot bed of separatist’s activities was no exception and equally posed a challenge for government in terms of law and order. How you motivated your force to control situation?
HSM: Let me clear one thing. Jammu and Kashmir Police is a professional organisation. Every cop is devoted to his duty and deal with crisis. We believe it is our profession to deal with any law and order situation which erupts in our area. We have administered oath for this very thing. Yes, regarding having a control on the situation that prevailed after the death of Burhan we constituted mobile teams for inspections of various areas. Police had kept a strict vigil over the entire situation. We arrested mischievous elements from the day one and whosoever was found involved in creating any sort of mischief.
TL: Police and CRPF have been alleged to have ransacked public property? Your take
HSM: Again, I tell you Jammu and Kashmir Police is a professional organisation. This is completely baseless and too far from reality. The work of Jammu and Kashmir Police is to safeguard the lives and the property of citizens. Indulging in such kind of practise is out of the question. I will disclose the reality: The same people who are indulged in stone pelting are the one who damage the property of people. They provoke the peace-loving people. We have arrested some of them.
TL: Are you approached from Hurriyat camp for release of stone-throwers?
HSM: What. There is a procedure prescribed in the book of law. It is not like that we will arrest and release people on our own will or by the pressure of political parties. Yes, some people from the parties you named approach us through different channels to release the protestors. But how can we go against the law.
TL: What about two SPO’s who publicly resigned during the 2016 unrest?
HSM: They are very much part of our department. They had not submitted their resignation papers officially. You see those circumstances; they would have been lynched had they not accepted what mob told them. We have arrested people who were behind this episode.
TL: Sopore police arrested a local militant rather than killing him as is the general practice. Was that an isolated event or will be taken as continuous practice.
HSM: Depends on circumstances which are not fully in our hand. We only fire back at held up militants when all our resources to arrest them exhaust. This is a routine practise. When we get information of any militant hiding out we use all our resources to arrest them rather than killing them. This is as per our prescribed Standard Operation Procedures.
Our approach is always defensive. The local militants are our own people who took the wrong path. We always give them a chance to correct themselves. My approach is to effectively tackle them and bring them on right track rather than killing.
TL: How many youth have joined the militant ranks post Burhan killing from Sopore?
TL: We have seen less drug traders are being arrested these days as compared to past? Has illicit drug trade in town bought under control?
HSM: You are wrong. Our department is very much active in tracing those involved in this illicit trade and whosoever is caught guilty police makes it sure to place him behind bars as per rule of law. It has not stopped and I believe that the complete eradication of drug menace by enforcement from a society is tending to impossible. Because if our department would arrest all those involved in this profession next day we will come to know some more people either consuming them or involved in there trafficking. So my emphasis from the very beginning has been on educating masses. We are also active on arranging seminars and campaigns on this issue and I assure the business is on decline.
TL: Recently Baramulla police asked people to help them in eradicating drug problem. Is that helping?
HSM: We believe it will surely help. But so far unfortunately no one from the civil society came forward with any complaint or information. Eradicating illicit drug trade is not possible until society itself plays an active role. We have approached traders Federation and other social organization and urged them to assist us in identifying these peddlers. But unfortunately, so far there has been no positive response. Our own sources are helping department to curb this menace.
TL: How do you view the recent police bill introduced by government giving sweeping powers to police?
HSM: Government is working on that so no comments.