Some 1800 Personal Security Officers (PSOs) guarding politicians of various political parties were killed in the last 3 decades in Kashmir, reveal official figures.
A senior police official told KNO that 1782 PSOs were killed in the line of duty in the past almost 30 years. “Majority of them lost their lives while protecting the person/politician they were deployed with,” he said.
He said that it is obvious that the PSOs protecting a categorized ‘Protected Person’ are vulnerable and “considered as prone to attacks.”
“Even though they are laced with the latest weapons, but given their job schedule, that includes guarding the person at home and on the road besides at a political event or a rally, they are prone to militant attacks,” the official said.
He said in the case of the PSO of a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader who was shot dead on Monday morning, there was no security lapse, as militants, believed to be two to three in number, fired indiscriminately at him, at the entrance gate of the protected person, leaving him critically wounded.
“He had multiple bullet injuries and succumbed. Even though the attack was repulsed by the second PSO who fired, we lost Manzoor,” the official said.
Earlier on October 6, another PSO, Altaf Ahmed, was killed while repulsing an attack on a BJP leader, Ghulam Qadir, in Ganderbal district of Central Kashmir. A militant was also killed in Altaf’s retaliatory action. The BJP leader escaped unhurt.
However, on July 9, BJP’s youth leader, Waseem Bari, his brother and father were killed in north Kashmir’s Bandipora even though he had 10 PSOs for his protection. The police top brass later suspended all of them“for dereliction of duties”.
Imtiyaz Ahmed (name changed), a PSO deployed for the protection of a politician in Srinagar, told KNO that the life of a PSO is so tough that he has to think twice and sound an alert before taking dinner, lunch or breakfast. “Fear always looms over our head. The nature of our job is full of risk. You never know when and where we can be attacked but life goes on. This is our duty and we will perform it to the best of our capabilities,” he said.
A senior police officer said that a fresh security advisory was on cards for the PSOs given the fact that many political leaders are taking part in rallies/campaigning in the wake of ongoing District Development Council (DDC) polls. “An in-house security advisory will soon be issued to the PSOs across Kashmir,” he said.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of the wreath-laying ceremony of slain PSO Manzoor at DPL Srinagar, J&K DGP said that attacks on political leaders and PSOs are being carried out to disrupt the ongoing election exercise in which peoples’ participation is huge.
“Attacks on political leaders or PSOs can happen despite security measures. BJP leader Waseem Bari was killed despite having 10 PSOs for his protection. Police can’t put the entire local population under curfew to prevent the movement of militants. I am sure that police will track down those involved in Natipora attack and bring them to justice,” he said. (KNO)