Hours after transferring its top police officer, the Jammu and Kashmir government on Friday informed the Supreme Court that a new acting chief had been appointed. Police chief SP Vaid was abruptly removed late on Thursday and Dilbagh Singh, the Director General of Prisons, was asked to take over until a new Director General of Police is appointed.
Mr Vaid’s exit came after weeks of serious differences between him and the Governor’s office. The centre also blamed him for the kidnapping fiasco last week, in which a terrorist’s father was freed in exchange for the kidnapped family members of policemen.
Home Ministry sources told NDTV that the Jammu and Kashmir government went to the court to pre-empt any contempt proceedings.
“The Supreme Court recently clearly laid down a methodology to appoint a new DGP of a state but in this case, it was not followed, which means the Jammu and Kashmir government can land in trouble,” a senior functionary of the ministry told NDTV.
According to him, the state has requested the court for an exemption. Jammu and Kashmir’s top lawyer argued that since the state was dealing with law and order and terror-related situations regularly, it could not remain headless and so, an acting DGP had been appointed.
The government also promised to send a list of probables for the post to the Union Public Service Commission, as required by the rules.
The home ministry says the names of five officers have been shortlisted for forwarding to the UPSC.
“All of them are 1987 batch officers. After empanelment, the government will appoint a full-time DGP,” an officer said.
The appointment of a new top line-up shows the centre does not trust officers who were appointed by the Mehbooba Mufti government. “The Chief Secretary, BVR Subrahmanyam, has changed the rules of the game and has appointed an entirely new team,” sources said.
The move is also seen to signal the return of a muscular policy in the Kashmir Valley, backed by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
For now, the security establishment is carrying out an inquiry to pin-point officials who took the decision to pick up Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Riyaz Naikoo’s father and other relatives of terrorists.
In retaliation, three policemen and eight relatives of policemen were kidnapped by terrorists in south Kashmir. They were set free hours after the police quietly released around a dozen family members of terrorists, including Naikoo’s father.
“There seem to have been multiple command centres in JK police hierarchy and that is why is taking so long to reach any specific name but it’s a matter of time,” a senior bureaucrat said on the kidnappings and their fallout.