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Tuesday, March 30, 1999

Injured Kashmir DIG vows to carry on despite his crushed hand

Bhavana Vij  
NEW DELHI, MARCH 29: The hand which wielded the gun to fight militants is crushed, but the spirit of S P Vaid, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of police, Baramullah range in the Kashmir Valley, is not.

Undergoing grafting operations for his hand in Delhi, Vaid cannot wait to be back in action. A 1986 batch Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) cadre IPS officer, Vaid, from his hospital bed, is still giving orders to his junior officers in Baramullah and Kupwara to meet informers and carry out raids. His wife Bharti, an Indian Information Service (IIS) officer and head of J&K Directorate of Field Publicity complains good-naturedly, ``He is treating the hospital room as a camp office.''

Vaid was injured on March 23 when his bullet-proof Ambassador and two escort Gypsies were ambushed by a group of 25 militants on the national highway, 12 km before Baramullah. He was on his way from Srinagar where he was officiating as Inspector General (IG) around 8.15 pm. The militants, aware that his car was bullet-proof, used powerfuluniversal machine guns which pierce through bullet-proof glass, instead of the commonly used AK-47s. A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) head constable, travelling in the escort Gypsy behind his car, was killed and two constables were seriously injured.In a bid to shield himself from the hail of bullets, Vaid put out his right hand, which took the brunt of the attack. One pellet is also lodged in his skull. The doctors in Baramullah said they would have to amputate some of his fingers. But Vaid was not willing to lose the use of his right hand and decided to take a chance in Delhi. The doctors here have retrieved tissues from near his collar bone and implanted these in his hand. They hope that he will be able to use most of his hand properly. The little finger, however, will probably be permanently damaged.

This was the fourth attack on him in his 14-year-long tenure but the first in which he has suffered severe injuries. ``God has always saved me. I have full faith in him and in destiny,'' says Vaid. Heis admitted to a south Delhi clinic which is likely to be his ``camp office'' for the next two months.

His lucidly expressive wife pipes in: ``Hailing from Kathua district in Jammu, he is a typical Dogra. I keep telling him that he is not only doing his duty as a police officer but also as the martial Dogra.''

In his career, Vaid has mostly done what are generally termed as hard postings. `I have always been posted in the worst-affected districts. Perhaps the state administration has faith in my abilities,'' he says modestly. From 1988 to 1990, he was the Additional Superintendent of Police in Badgam which at that time was the worst-affected. He was promoted as SP in the same district in 1990, the year when he faced maximum militant attacks.

It is Bharti who remembers one of the attacks distinctly. She was accompanying her husband along with their month-old daughter Shivangi from Gulmarg to Badgam. Militants attacked the convoy, killing two army men in the milk supply vehicle in front of his car. Someof them were apprehended and admitted later that the attack was meant to kill him. He also gives credit to his driver who kept driving the car despite being shot in the shoulder and arm.

It is again his wife who proudly remembers that he also topped the International Commanders' programme at Police Staff College at UK. Changing the topic, Vaid says that with the elected government in place, the state police is witnessing a revival. ``Earlier the morale of the police force was down. They were ill-equipped, carried obsolete 303s,'' he adds.

Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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