Six departmental enquiries were ordered into 14 cases of weapon snatching in Kashmir and services of as many involved policemen suspended during the last two months, officials said, with the loss of weapons becoming a major concern for Jammu and Kashmir Police.
Five automatic rifles were snatched from on-duty policemen by suspected militants in the month of May alone.
“All the policemen whose rifles were snatched (in the past two months) have been placed under suspension. This is a normal process,” A K Chaudhary, additional director general of police (Armed) told .
“Every such incident is followed by a departmental inquiry. If a policeman is found involved in dereliction of his duty strict action follows.”Service of policemen found guilty is immediately terminated.
According to official records militants snatched 165 weapons from policemen during the last three years, 76 of which were recovered. At least 90 persons suspected connected with the weapons loot were arrested.
Top police officers say weapon snatching had become a trend and could have “dangerous repercussions” if not stopped soon.
On May 25, police authorities banned the use of smart phones by policemen, particularly sentries during duty hours. Policemen were also directed to chain their weapons firmly to their belts to ensure snatching attempts fail.
However, barely three days after the ban order, militants decamped with two rifles after barging into the house of a protected political leader late in the night at Daburana village of southern Anantnag district.
A senior police officer said though the weapon snatching incidents are nothing new in Kashmir, but in recent months it has shown a surge, pointing to the militants facing a shortage of weapons. Policemen who lost their weapons to militants and were suspended from service remain under strict vigil by officers.
Alarmed at the frequency of weapon snatching incidents senior police officials say lately militants have apparently devised a strategy to “loot as many weapons as possible” taking advantage of the temporary Ramadan ceasefire.Five weapons were looted by suspected militants in the month of Ramadan that started on May 16.
In the past two months, three major incidents took place in Srinagar alone—four rifles were snatched from a police guard room at Hyderpora, followed by another incident at Kashmir University gate where one rifle was looted and the latest at a hotel near Dalgate, just a day before Prime Minister Narendera Modi’s Srinagar visit where three rifles were taken away by suspected militants.