A few days after Amit Shah’s visit, J&K calls on a specialized state investigative agency to fight terrorism

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The Interior Ministry of the government of Jammu and Kashmir on Monday announced the formation of the State Investigation Agency (SIA) which will handle most of the high-profile terrorist cases. The head of J&K CID will lead the agency as a director. The newly formed SIA will coordinate closely with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) which is headquartered in New Delhi.

The major announcement comes days after Home Secretary Amit Shah concluded his four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir. During his meeting with senior security officials, Shah stressed that no space can be given to separatism in Kashmir and called on J&K police to lead efforts for a new targeted approach to counter terrorists and the their entire network while perfecting their human intelligence in the field.

Shah expressed his displeasure at the recent killings of civilians in Kashmir and firmly called on the police and security forces of J&K to strictly eliminate terrorism. The Home Secretary, during the security review meeting, sent a message that the J&K Police can in no way be considered a weak force and that officers will need to recalibrate their counterterrorism strategy accordingly.

Since the NIA coordinated 2017 raids in Kashmir that crippled Pakistan-sponsored separatism, the need has arisen to set up a separate security wing to deal with terrorism-related cases. The J&K State Investigation Agency would be responsible for investigating all terrorism-related offenses, all terrorist acts, including terrorist financing, and the circulation of counterfeit Indian currency in large quantities. Cases under the UAPA and the Explosive Substances Act also fall under these laws, among other similar laws.

The current Special Director General of Police (DGP) Rashmi Ranjan Swain as head of the J&K CID has closely followed the establishment of the SIA. Swain, for more than a year, has been at the forefront of fighting the roots of separatism and terror in the valley, stifling separatists and their networks. The top cop has also acted successfully against ground workers (OGWs) as well as government officials engaged in terrorist activity in silence.

The SIA will have CID, CIK and CIJ as notified police stations for the purposes of recording and investigating cases that fall within the scope of the new agency. However, some new officers are likely to be inducted into the agency which will get a special incentive of 25% of base salary to all employees assigned to the SIA.

The SIA announcement also comes at a time when the head of the J&K NIA, Rakesh Balwal, a 2012 IPS from the Manipur Cadre, has been deputy to the J&K Cadre for three years. Balwal, who was instrumental in resolving the Pulwama terrorist attack case and several high-profile terrorist cases with roots across the border in Pakistan, is known to be the first choice to lead the coordination and establishment of the SIA as SSP.

SSP CID (Counter Intelligence) Altaf Ahmad Khan, who was cleared for induction into IPS earlier this year, is another top choice for the job. Khan was instrumental in his current profile and earlier as SSP Anantnag in several counterterrorism operations. He is likely to be elevated to DIG rank soon.

The formation of the SIA is likely to strengthen the J&K police force to tighten the noose around the separatist-terrorist link and its air network in the valley.

Aditya Raj Kaul is a contributing editor with over a decade of experience reporting on conflict, foreign policy and homeland security. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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