While Kashmir is witnessing a deadly revival of militancy, the summer capital of Srinagar continues to be a militant-free district. And the credit for this exceptional situation goes mainly to the young IPS officer, Amit Kumar who has been serving as the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) in Srinagar for over three years.
A 2006 batch IPS official hailing from Jammu, 38-year-old Kumar is the youngest SSP to have ever headed the summer capital which is considered as the most crucial district in the restive state. He was posted as a city police chief in December 2013, when the revival of militancy was making the headlines. But while keeping militancy at bay, he also ensured foolproof security for conducting “two most peaceful elections” for Parliament and Assembly polls in 2015.
An electronics engineer by qualification, Kumar is driven by his own style of “drills and SOPs”. Wearing civvies, he would occasionally board a private car without escort to ascertain police preparedness on ground. While the concerned police stations initially presumed that “SPP Sahib” would be resting at his home during night hours, Kumar would actually be out for inspections in disguise, something which often took his teams by surprise.
Apart from keeping the cops on tenterhooks, he improved ties with the locals as well. He mingled freely with the civilians, mainly youth, giving them the opportunity to speak their heart out, a move which helped him develop the local source network to track possible militant activities. And the results remained obvious.
Srinagar is believed to be the only district where militants don’t even have “sleeper cells”. Reports reveal that in the last three years, every time militants sneaked in, they were killed. Over the years, a perception has developed that given the “strong informer base”, militants avoid visiting Srinagar and the city continues to be militancy free.
Kumar also tracked possible indoctrination of the youth. In many cases, he counseled the brainwashed youth in “friendly manner” without filing any cases against them. According to the sources, such youth ended up adding to his source network.
Seen as a media-shy officer, Kumar doesn’t want his sources to be called as “informers.” He calls them “friends.” “Informer is a very typical word where you necessarily have a formal give and take. But once you have friends, there are expectations to help out each other. And friendship is something about sharing and caring,” Kumar told InUth during an exclusive interview.
Interestingly crimes like car thefts also came down phenomenally during his tenure. But the officer is not satisfied on this front. “Frankly speaking our priority remained tackling militancy and law and order, so couldn’t focus much on crime.”
Given his exceptional performance, he remained the first choice for both National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party led regimes. So if the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had given this fresher an opportunity to head the sensitive City, the Muftis equally banked on Kumar though he overstayed his tenure.
As of now, he has been given a new assignment in the intelligence wing of police. Kumar attributes the success of his tenure as Srinagar police chief to his team and seniors, alike. “I had the excellent team, the best was with me. And there was a blanket support of my seniors and absolute authority they had given to me(in my work)!”