Wani effect: Senior J&K police officer S.M. Sahai transferred

kashmir-protest081016-afp Mourners shout slogans during the funeral procession of a 12-year-old boy in Srinagar on Saturday | AFP

In what is being seen as Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti's displeasure over handling of the Burhan Wani encounter that has resulted in a rising wave of unrest in the state, the most high profile police officer who was handling the Wani issue is on his way out of J&K . Top sources said S.M. Sahai's posting orders are presently shuttling between the Union home ministry and the Prime Ministers Office.

Sahai, who was appointed as additional director general of police (intelligence) during the brief President's rule in the state after Mufti Mohammed Saeed's death early this year, was the only J&K police officer to come on record about Wani's death. Sahai's appointment had been touted as a major step to revamp the intelligence operations in the state at a time when militancy was on the rise and the role of the ''intelligence grid'' in hunting and tracking down militants held greater significance. However, the violent fall-out of the death of the Hizbul Mujahideen poster boy in an encounter with security forces was something the intelligence apparatus in the state had failed to grasp, resulting in large-scale deaths and injuries in the last few months. 

The latest move to shift Sahai, who has been credited with successful intelligence gathering, especially the human intelligence aspect, is also being seen as Mehbooba Mufti trying to handle the situation in the state ''administratively'' rather than ''politically''. 

Sahai, an IPS officer of 1987 batch, is an old J&K hand who has served in the state for nearly three decades. He served as IG, intelligence before being appointed as ADGP, CID by Governor N.N. Vohra.

In July, joint teams of the J&K police and the army lunched an intelligence based operation in Kokernag. "It was not a targeted killing of Burhan Wani. He was killed in retaliatory fire," Sahai had said. The J&K chief minister had obliquely criticised the security forces for Wani's death in the encounter. 

Wani's death led to an unprecedented clamp down by security forces and large scale violence with protestors attacking security forces and police stations. The continued unrest in the valley has entered the fourth month even as a young boy succumbed to pellet injuries on Friday and curfew was reimposed in parts of Srinagar on Saturday. 

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