New Delhi: There has been a political storm over a video which went viral last week, showing youths in Srinagar assaulting a constable of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). The jawan is seen being heckled, kicked and beaten up by the mob as he is seemingly returning from a polling station after the Srinagar Lok Sabha bypoll on April 9.
The video led to a lot of angry responses, with some calling for retaliation from the armed forces posted in Kashmir. Far from these animated debates is the life of a 28-year-old jawan and his fellows, who survive in toughest circumstances, day after day, following the discipline and rules that govern them. As the video shows, the jawan practices restraint even in the face of hostility.
News18 managed to speak to this brave constable whose identity is being withheld on request of CRPF.
His unit was sent to UP for assembly polls and then to Manipur. On April 2 and 3, the unit was airlifted to Kashmir after an urgent request for additional forces by the administration. The abysmal voter turnout and violence during the polling showed how the administration’s fears were based on intelligence from local sources.
For CRPF jawans, such call of duty always comes with unexpected challenges. In this case, while the unit was airlifted to Kashmir, its mess was not. News18 couldn’t find out the exact reason behind this but probably the Air force couldn’t arrange the airlifting of the mess on such short notice. After being stranded in a hostile environment right in the beginning of their posting, a mess was locally arranged for the jawans.
For the next few days, the jawans waited patiently for the orders. The final deployment was done on the midnight of April 8 for the April 9 polling.
But soon, things went out of control. According to CRPF, the mob attacked the polling booth and broke the electronic voting machine (EVM). Within minutes, the presiding officer fled the spot.
Fearing for their lives, the 8 jawans decided to march to the closest booth with the broken EVM. According to CRPF, the jawans were chased by the mob and the video which went viral shows only one part of the assault.
The jawans, whom News18 spoke to on the condition of anonymity, said the section officer had given them specific instructions to not to retaliate, and certainly not open fire, as it could lead to heavy casualty.The jawans managed to disperse the crowd, using tear gas and mortar shells, before they reached the next booth and got more reinforcement.