A suspended policeman hurled a shoe at Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah at the Independence Day function here on Sunday. It fell on the ground but the incident shook the dignitaries seated in the VIP pavilion at the Bakhshi Stadium, which had been turned into a fortress.
Abdul Ahad Jan, suspended head constable of J & K Police, was arrested and is being interrogated. Fifteen policemen, who were put on duty in the area where the incident occurred at 10.30 a.m., have been placed under suspension for “breach of security.” An inquiry has also been ordered into the role of these policemen — two sub-inspectors, two assistant sub-inspectors, three head constables and eight constables.
Jan, himself seated in the VIP pavilion, stood up and threw the shoe towards the podium where Mr Abdullah was taking the salute at a ceremonial parade after unfurling the national flag. Jan, who also shouted, “we want freedom,” was immediately whisked away by Special Security Group personnel.
Mr Abdullah was dismissive of the incident and, in his speech, said he was happy that someone threw a shoe instead of stones. “I don't mind that when I came in today, some one stood up and shouted slogans. If he had a shoe and not a stone in his hand, then it's a better way of agitation.”Informed sources said Jan had told his interrogators that he was upset at the “killings” taking place in Kashmir. “He had no remorse for what he did,” a police officer said. A case of sedition has been registered against him at the Shergarhi police station.
Late in the evening, a police spokesman said Jan revealed that he had been approached by a political party leader, whose entry pass he used to gain entry into the venue.
Director-General of Police Kulim Rhoda told The Hindu that Jan was a criminal, against whom many cases were registered. “We have constituted a team headed by Kashmir range DIG Deepak Kumar which will investigate the incident.” Jan had been under treatment in a psychiatric hospital as well as with private doctors. He had been placed under suspension in May this year, the DGP said.
In his speech, the Chief Minister said: “Today [Sunday] is the fourth day of the sacred month of Ramzan. Let's vow [ourselves] that at least this month both sides would desist from a show of strength. Let there be no stone pelting, let there be a situation where the security forces need not fire a bullet or resort to lathi charge.”
Amid strict curfew restrictions and a strike called by separatists, the Independence Day celebrations in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir were peaceful.
Unprecedented security arrangements had been made to thwart attempts to disrupt the main function at the Bakhshi Stadium.
(We got the name wrong. The report, “Breach of security in Srinagar” (August 16, 2010), said Kulim Rodha is the Director-General of Police. It is Kuldip Khoda.)