Why Home Ministry formed new investigation agency in J-K?

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Srinagar: Following an increase in the number of militant confrontations in Jammu and Kashmir (J-K), the government has constituted a special agency – State Investigation Agency (SIA), with a mandate to handle most high-profile militancy related cases.  

According to a J-K Home Department order, the head of the criminal investigation department (CID) wing shall be the ex-officio Director of the SIA. The government has empowered J-K Director General of Police (DGP) to hand over a case to the SIA depending upon the gravity of the offence.

A special incentive of 25 percent of the basic salary shall be paid to the employees who are posted in the SIA.

Need of SIA

For the past few years, all the high-profile militancy and money laundering cases were largely handled by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) with the collaboration of J-K police.

In the past four months, the NIA has conducted around 160 raids across J-K in various cases largely related to “terror funding, anti-national activities or militancy related.”

However, sources in the police department told The Kashmir Walla, the decision to constitute SIA comes after Home Minister Amit Shah was on a four-day visit to the J-K to take a review of the security situation in the region.

“After the recent increase in the militant attacks, it was felt that there should be a well oiled agency on the ground who will specifically work on the counter insurgency threat in the region,” sources said.

Sources said that Shah, in his briefing, expressed his dissatisfaction over curbing the militancy in J-K, especially after the state was directly overtaken by New Delhi following the removal of its special status on 5 August 2019.

According to reports, Shah during the review meeting had directed the top officers to focus on “ending terrorism” or “take transfer” to the decent posting in other states of India.

J-K witnessed a spate of attacks in October month. According to the official figures 47 casualties took place in this month that includes 20 militants, 15 soldiers and 12 civilians.

Five of the civilians killed were labourers from Bihar, while three, including two teachers, belonged to minority communities in Kashmir.

Sources said that though the SIA would work in tandem with the NIA in the sensitive cases, it will have more teeth to investigate the case autonomously.

The cases which can be handed over to the SIA or in which the agency will have powers to register FIR on its own include, Explosive Substances Act, Atomic Energy Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, Anti-Hijacking Act, Suppression of Unlawful Act against Safety of Maritime Navigation, Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act and Weapons of Mass Destruction and their Delivery System Act.

“The proposal was sent to the Union Home Ministry and after getting the nod, the order regarding the same was made public,” he said.

As per the order, all the police stations shall mandatorily intimate the SIA immediately upon registration of militancy-related cases.

The government has also asked the police, that the cases where investigation is not transferred to the SIA, the agency must be kept informed about the investigation process.

“The SIA will be a nodal agency for coordinating with the NIA and other central agencies,” the order reads.

Impact on ground

Sources also said that putting a plug to the increasing militant related cases in J-K that largely include “money laundering, over ground support to armed groups” would be the first two major assignments that the new agency would be focused on.

“It (SIA) is not a combative force that will be involved in the gunfight. The role is to break the nexus between the militants and the assets they have created to carry on with their activities,” they said. “If we succeed in plugging this nexus, the militancy will choke itself,”

The other two state agencies that are currently working on the ground to deal with the counter insurgency, money laundering, and other related cases are Counter Intelligence Kashmir (CIK), and Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

The order reads that the CID, CIK and CID, CIJ, shall also be the police stations for the purposes of registering and investigation of cases by the SIA.

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