Srinagar, Mar 17: All but one of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans who were killed in a terror attack at their camp in Bemina here on Mar 13 could not defend themselves properly due to the lack of guns, reports say.
"About 50 of our jawans with lathis and riot gear belonging to the 73rd Battalion were waiting for a truck which was supposed to take them to a Srinagar locality to chase away the protesters. They were waiting when the militants started firing on them and lobbed grenades," the officer told the weekly newspaper.
His colleague confirmed that "The two terrorists, who managed to kill our jawans before being eliminated, were shot dead by the jawans who had access to guns."
Reading this if anybody wonders why guns were not provided to all the jawans, the answer is simple. On Feb 11, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah insisted that the paramilitary force personnel must stick to the standard operating procedure (SoP) as per which more than a third of a CRPF company's total number of jawans are not allowed to carry firearms.
The top brass of the CRPF did not take kindly to the chief minister's instruction but they were left with no choice after he put pressure on Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde. The latter phoned the director general of CRPF and stressed that the force must fall in line.
Without guns, the jawans are like sitting ducks. Of late, even ordinary protesters have felt emboldened to strike at CRPF personnel ever since Feb 9. On that day, Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru was hanged at the Tihar Jail in Delhi. Over 350 jawans have sustained injuries in the past five weeks.
Paramilitary forces are called in usually after the local police find the law and order situation too difficult to handle. However, the CRPF cannot work miracles if it is not given a free hand. One hopes Omar Abdullah realises soon that by restraining the jawans, he is indirectly encouraging the terrorists.