In our brutalised society, when we think of a cop, we conjure up an image of a cynical, aggressive, suspicious and conservative person. Sporting short hair, strict facial expression and a well-decorated uniform, Ashkoor Wani, Inspector General of Police, CIV, in a conversation with Ajaz Rashid Kashmir Scan, shares some memorable ‘lighter’ moments from his life and career.
KS) Where were you born? What are your earliest memories from childhood?
AW) I was born and my upbringing took place in a far-flung village named Dugnoo of Kathua district. The village even today has no roads and no transport facility but the electricity has recently been provided to the area. During my childhood, we had only one school in our village and that too was up to 5th I used to walk ten kilometres every day to reach the higher secondary school in Bilawar.
After completing graduation from Kathua College, I did M.A Economics from Jammu University. In my entire village, I was the first student to reach the level of matriculation and so was the first government employee of my time. I had limited desires which a common middle-class person can think of. To become a high-ranked police officer was never in my mind but it was perhaps written in destiny for me.
During my education, I had aimed to become a teacher or the highest I could think was a college professor. It was my luck that in 1981, I appeared for civil services exam and got selected for Kashmir Police Services in 1982.
KS) After becoming a police officer, what kind of lifestyle changes you had to make? Was it tougher?AW) After joining the police academy, I stepped into a new world with strict rules, discipline and hierarchy. In my initial professional career, I was discouraged by other batch mates who mostly belonged to well settled and educated families. At the academy, I thought I would always be an average police officer but later on, I realised that only hard work and dedication towards your profession can give you success.
KS) So you think hard-work always pays?
AW) I am the officer who during my tenure got the fastest promotion of SSP in just nine months and that was only because of my hard work and better performance.
KS) Who has inspired you the most in your career as a police officer?
AW) I was hugely inspired by senior officers and the most I liked were two IPS officers of 1984 batch namely K Ilangoo and K Rajindra. I learnt a lot from them. During my tenure, I was posted in various areas of J&K and there is not a single one which he didn’t enjoy. I was never after any prime posting and liked everything whatever I was assigned with. I have enjoyed every bot of it, whether it was a prime one or any ordinary positing
KS) Do you think you have achieved what you aspired for?
AW) Though I am not a daydreamer or ambitious, I got everything whatever I desired, by the grace of Allah. During my police career, I desired to be a successful police officer and I can say that Ashkoor Wani is being counted as one of the best police officers of the state.
KS) What has been your role in tackling insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir?
AW) As far as militancy is considered, as SP Operation, I have played a vital role in eliminating militants and their commanders. My tenure as SP was during the peak of militancy of 90s which was a greater challenge for me as a police officer. Though I got death threats and was a prime target for militants, I, without caring, succeeded in eliminating some of the top commanders including Hizbul Mujahidin Deputy Supreme Commander Mohd Yousuf alias Naseebu Din Gazi.
SOG and STF have played a great role in breaking the morale of militancy during 90’s. I still remember that one of the dreaded militant, Ghulam Rasool Shah alias General Abdullah of Haihama, Kupwara, presently in Pakistan, has authored a book in which he has written a chapter titled ‘Ashkoor Wani Jallad’ (Ashkoor Wani an Executioner).
Though Ashkoor is a tough police officer in the field, but at the same time, he is as common at home and in social circles as we all are. I am altogether different outside the office, especially at home. I love to help family members during work, even in domestic work.
KS) Tell us about your hobbies?
AW) I love to spend time at my dairy farm and vegetable garden. I am not good at cooking but I am good in making Makki ki Roti (corn chappatis). Though I don’t have many hobbies but golf is an addiction. Besides golf, after my retirement, I would like to visit Europe and other beautiful countries with my family.
During 35 years of police service, I have seen various phases of Kashmir conflict. I have seen the worst phase of militancy, some normalcy, a new phase of militancy and the recent uncontrollable law and order situation.
KS) What is your message to the people of J&K?
AW) As an officer, I want to convey a message of religious brotherhood to the people of J&K. We are the largest democracy in the world and so is in our state. We are free to practice any religion, custom, tradition and, most of all, our lifestyle. This kind of life is not easy in Pakistan or any other Muslim country. We should not get indulged in regional differences or religious differences. Doing this, we are deteriorating our future.