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Kashmiris are extremely lovely people, with talent in their fingers: Modi

PM Modi

Tanushree from Bihar, a young Indian Police Service (IPS) probationer of the 2017 batch Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) cadre, has won hearts after her virtual interaction with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday.

At the Dikshant Parade of 131 IPS probationers at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel National Police Academy (SVPNPA) in Hyderabad, Tanushree shared her personal experience during an encounter with militants in Srinagar. She articulated the need for the police force to be resolute and professional in wiping out terrorism while maintaining a humane face.

With training in textile designing from the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Tanushree was asked by Modi how would she reconcile diverse fields of terror and textile. “Sir, I’ll manage. I have got very good training”, the IPS probationer assured. She explained how the J&K Police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) conducted a challenging operation in which they had to arrest or eliminate Hizbul Mujahideen’s most wanted commander Junaid Sehrai in the densely populated Nawakadal aera of Srinagar. Tanushree got the chance to participate in her first counter-insurgency operation—giving her an insight into what to expect in her life and career in the police service.

It was late in the evening on Monday, 18 May 2020, that the security forces learned about the presence of Sehrai and an associate at the residence of a supporter at Kani Manzar, Nawakadal. An operation was planned by the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the Srinagar District Police where Tanushree was taking practical training ahead of completing her probation. She narrated how efficiently she and her three teams eliminated both the militants on one front, evacuated dozens of the civilians, including women and children, on another front and tackled stone-pelters on the third front.

Evacuation of an injured colleague to a hospital was also a big challenge in the dense cluster of houses. “We continued the operation and didn’t withdraw till we eliminated both the terrorists while evacuating an injured colleague to a hospital. But, at the same time, I got first-hand experience of the human face of our police force as they risked their lives but evacuated all the women and children to safe places. Such situations need sacrifice of life and I realized that it would always be an honor”, Tanushree explained.

A prize catch for the security forces, Sehrai had been appointed as Hizbul Mujahideen’s ‘deputy chief’ after the organisation’s 'chief of operations' in Kashmir, Riyaz Naikoo, had been killed in an encounter in Awantipora, in southern Kashmir, on 6 May 2020. An MBA student from the University of Kashmir, Sehrai had gone underground on 23 March 2018, just four days after his father Ashraf Sehrai, a high profile separatist, had been appointed as chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat.

On 24 March, his photograph, showing him in battle gear with an AK rifle in his hand, went viral on social media. It was the announcement of his joining the Hizbul Mujahideen. The 15-hour-long operation at Nawakadal, in which several houses perished, was challenging as it was the first encounter in the summer capital after the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35-A and splitting of the state into two Union Territories on 5 August 2019.

The last encounter in Srinagar had happened on 6 October 2018 when the Lashkar-e-Tayyiba commander Merajuddin Bangroo and his associate Fahad Waza had been killed at Fatehkadal. Prime Minister Modi was moved by the lady IPS probationer’s first-hand account, which was in contrast to what the world had been told by the other side—‘unwarranted burning of residential houses, loot of cash and jewellery by soldiers’. After the operation concluded, hundreds of people gathered at the site of the encounter.

Three of them were injured when some burning walls collapsed. They later died at the hospital. It was for the first time in recent years that Prime Minister Modi, in his virtual face-to-face with Tanushree, described the Kashmiris as “extremely lovely people with amazing talent in their fingers”.

He said, his experience of working in the valley long back told him that the Kashmiris were lovely people who deserved to be retrieved from the quagmire of violence and terrorism. With a big cottage industry of art and handicrafts, Modi said, the people of Kashmir had a passion for weaving and textiles.

He advised Tanushree to take time off for an extracurricular responsibility after she joins as an IPS in Kashmir. Without uniform, he told her, she should reach out to the common people, particularly the women, make groups of 5 to 15 women each and tap their talent and resources for production that would sustain them efficiently. “Our first and foremost job should be to prevent the Kashmiri youths from treading the wrong path and salvage all those who are already there. Our women police can prove to be most effective in it”, the Prime Minister asserted..