Jammu and Kashmir police and Indian army were separately investigating cases of policemen and soldiers who have joined the militant ranks in recent years in Kashmir after decamping with their service weapons, officials said.
Since 2015, at least nine instances of government forces’ personnel have deserted to join the militants, mostly Hizbul Mujahideen group.
In most cases the policemen and soldiers announced their rebellion by posting their photographs on social media, brandishing weapons, just like those local youth who join militant ranks.
According to police officer majority of the policemen who have taken the extreme step to decamp along with their service riffles belong to southern districts of Kashmir province.
“We have started internal probe to find out reasons that pushes cops to join militancy. Though some reasons are obvious,” the officer said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Southern Kashmir has been in the throes of azadi protests constantly since the killing of Hizb commander Burhan Wani in July 2016.
Police believe it is the prevailing conditions in the area that force “some boys to pick up arms.”
“We know all is not well in southern Kashmir. There are obviously some factors that force either newly recruits or cops in service to join militant ranks,” said a senior police officer.
“One major factor is that they belong to south Kashmir.”
Police have directed all the district police chiefs across Kashmir province to keep an eye on the “behaviour of cops” to ensure incidents of policemen joining militancy doesn’t become a trend.
“It is the behaviour that says it all. So we are aware and keeping a close watch on boys who show change in their actions,” another police officer said, declining to be identified.
However, officials dismiss reports that Hizb had cast a net to lure “trained cops and soldiers” to train new recruits.
“I don’t think there is anything like that,” Pani said.
The Army too has started internal investigations into reasons of Kashmiri soldiers joining militancy, but officers say it’s not “a big issue.”
“We need to see the performance of Kashmiri soldiers who are performing their duties with zeal and zest in Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JAKLI),” a senior army officer at 15 Corps headquarters in Srinagar said, wishing anonymity.
He said the respective units “are busy analysing possible reasons” responsible for the change of mind in a few soldiers.
“Their respective commands and units are on job as it’s the rule (in the army),” the officer said.