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How ultras are targeting cops in Kashmir

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October 21, 2006 23:00 IST

Killing policemen and armed security personnel appears to be the latest hit and run strategy of the ultras in Jammu and Kashmir.

The ultras have singled out the state policemen for extra treatment, since they are deployed at vulnerable places in summer capital Srinagar.

As many as 16 local policemen have been killed in different hit and run attacks in the recent past.

What is worrisome for the security forces is the fact that most of the local policemen killed or wounded in recent attacks are those who have been "detailed on regulatory duties".

"In the past, the militants had been focusing their attacks on members of the special operations group, whose exclusive duties included counter-insurgency operations. It seems the distinction between an ordinary policeman doing usual police work and those working for counter-insurgency operations has disappeared.

"Militants seem to pick soft targets among the local police and the boys on the road manning busy markets or over-crowded public places are easy targets," said a senior police officer.

Alerted by the changing militant strategy, the top brass has issued new guidelines.

"It is always easy to target a policeman doing duty. It has been decided that the policemen deployed at sensitive places would work in what is known as the buddy-pair arrangement.

"Say in a group of six policemen, each one becomes the natural escort for the other. This way, they can keep an eye on their personal security and also maintain the overall vigil," the officer said.

The authorities also want to ensure that every policeman on the road has the proper gear like a bulletproof vest and an automatic weapon to counter any sudden attack.

"The attacks are worrisome. But we are taking adequate measures to foil the attempts. The militants target the policemen because of their increased participation in tackling terror," he added.

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar