Days after the centre rejected resignation videos of Special Police Officers (SPO) as "false propaganda" by terrorists, the Jammu and Kashmir government today admitted the quitting spree in south Kashmir, but played it down by saying that the number is negligible.
"The state has over 30,000 SPOs. If you compare the number of people who have resigned, it's negligible," said BVR Subramanium, Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir.
The resignation videos of policemen surfaced following the kidnapping and killing of three cops in Jammu and Kashmir, just days after Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists had put out a "resign or die" threat. Sources say more than 40 SPOs and policemen have resigned since Friday.
The three policemen, all SPOs, were dragged out of their homes in Shopian in south Kashmir before daybreak and killed by terrorists. Their bodies with multiple bullet wounds were found later in an orchard near their village.
Resignation videos and reports that terrorists were raiding homes and forcing policemen to resign followed.
The home ministry rubbished the videos, with some officials claiming these were from people who were not SPOs anymore. "Reports have appeared in a section of media that some Special Police Officers (SPOs) in #JammuAndKashmir have resigned. J&K Police have confirmed that these reports are untrue and motivated. These reports are based on false propaganda by mischievous elements," said the ministry in a statement.
To prevent cops from uploading such videos on social media, as had been directed by the Hizbul in its threat video, the government has blocked internet services in south Kashmir. The worst-hit are Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam districts.
At Kachdora village in Shopian, constable Mukhtar Ahmad said his family has requested him to resign. The brutal murder of three cops scared them, he said.
"I am facing threats. The situation is grim here. My wife and parents asked me to resign as they are worried for their safety. I have got this affidavit and this resignation form as well," said Mukhtar Ahmad.
Police sources say there are more than 3,000 SPOs from south Kashmir and the government is relocating many policemen and their families to safer places. The police and other security agencies have also issued advisories to their personnel not visit their homes in the troubled region.
In its effort to prevent more resignations and reverse the dangerous trend, the government is contemplating sops for the SPOs. Their salary of Rs 6,000 is expected to see a jump of Rs 10,000.
"All the SPOs have been instructed about their personal security. The salaries of SPOs are going to see substantial jump in the next few days,'' said Mr Subramanyam.
Last week, the Hizbul Mujahideen had put out a video threatening to kill security personnel, mainly SPOs, if they didn't resign.
"Upload your resignations on the internet or face the consequences," the local head of Umar Majeed group, an offshoot of Hizbul Mujahideen, said. Security officials said posters carrying threats had also come up in many villages.
The threats were directed mainly at SPOs who are an important source of intelligence against terrorists for security agencies. Such policemen are mostly locals who work with security agencies.
For a policeman in south Kashmir, cops say the situation cannot get worse than this. He can't go to his home and live with his family. Those who want to live with their families consider their resignations as the only option.