Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Shoe ‘hero’ held for extortion in uniform

Srinagar, May 16:--

A former policeman hailed as a hero by Kashmiri protesters for throwing a shoe at the chief minister has been arrested for an extortion bid.

Abdul Ahad Jan, a head constable who was sacked for a different reason in 2011, was picked up after truck driver Kulvinder Singh complained two days ago that a "police officer" had extorted money from him.

Investigations revealed that Jan, who was no longer in service, was impersonating a police officer and had taken Rs 38,000 from the driver. He was arrested yesterday.

"We have booked him for extortion and impersonation. The money has also been recovered from his possession," said Abdul Wahid, the chief of Awantipora police district in south Kashmir.

Jan, Wahid said, was wearing a police uniform when he blamed the driver for putting his truck in a "no-parking" zone at Gallender in Pampore, 14km from here.

"Later, he boarded the truck and asked the driver to drop him at Awantipora. He began harassing him and, while on the way, extorted Rs 38,000 from him," Wahid said. "He was in uniform although he had been sacked."

Jan was hailed as a hero by Kashmiri protesters in 2010 when he hurled a shoe at chief minister Omar Abdullah at the peak of the five-month-long summer unrest sparked by the killing of a teenager, allegedly by security forces.

Jan had entered the VVIP enclosure at Srinagar's Bakshi Stadium taking advantage of his police identity card and flung the shoe at Omar, who was attending an Independence Day parade. The shoe missed the target and Jan, who had also shouted pro-azaadi slogans and waved a black cloth, was soon overpowered by security forces. The government had then claimed that Jan was mentally unstable.

The incident was a big embarrassment for Omar, who had been trying unsuccessfully to contain the protests. More than 120 civilians died at the hands of security forces during the agitation.

Jan was arrested but released after some days when the chief minister pardoned him.

Many had cheered Jan for the "brave" act and thousands had rushed to his home at Ajas village in Sonawari to congratulate him despite the curfews and shutdowns. Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani declared him a hero in a statement.

In 2011, Jan was sacked for his "continued absence" from duty. He had blamed the government for punishing him for his shoe-throwing act.

An officer said the police had been suspicious of Jan's activities, which helped them crack the case.

"There were reports that he was seen moving in the area in a police uniform and was involved in extortion bids. That was why we showed his pictures to the driver along with those of some other accused. The driver recognised Jan from his photo," an officer said.
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