Srinagar: The elite Jammu and Kashmir Police (SOG) counterterrorism unit, whose headquarters are dubbed “Cargo,” finally got a full-time police superintendent to lead it after a hiatus of nearly five. month.
The appointment of Ifftikhar Talib as a police component of the SP (PC), heading the elite unit this week, comes after a wave of minority murders in Srinagar which had taken the security forces by surprise.
The last SP to lead the elite unit was Tahir Ashraf, who changed posts in May this year.
Since then, the cargo has been treated as an additional load by another officer, sources within the security establishment said.
Talib, an officer with extensive experience in counterterrorism operations and previously with the SOG in other capacities, served as a deputy in Ladakh and took over the elite unit on Saturday.
SOG personnel conduct counterterrorism operations at J&K, both in terms of actual encounters and intelligence generation.
Sources within the defense and security establishment expressed surprise that the unit did not have a full-time SP to lead operations for nearly five months.
“The SOG was treated as an extra load and they got to work. However, appointing a full-time SP will ensure that work is coordinated, more fluid and organized. It’s a surprise that there hasn’t been a full-time MS so far, ”a source said.
Some sources, meanwhile, argued that the terrorists had succeeded in carrying out the Srinagar attacks because of a sense of “normalcy” that had crept in.
“There are multiple ways to make sure terrorist incidents are down. One is to obtain specific information about the presence of a terrorist in an area as a result of which a targeted operation is carried out and the terrorist is neutralized. Developing intelligence requires sustained work. The other is to increase the pressure with sustained search operations, checking that the terrorist is never installed and is on the move, ”a source explained.
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What is SOG?
The SOG, also known as the Special Task Force, is more of a volunteer force drawn from the regular Jammu and Kashmir Police, which has over 1,000 people working around the clock to conduct operations and generate information.
Operationally, Cargo, a name taken from the building that once housed Indian Airlines cargo in Srinagar, reports directly to the J&K Inspector General of Police who reports to the Director General of Police.
The Cargo unit is divided into special teams, each dealing with various aspects of counterterrorism operations, from telephone follow-up to social media monitoring and targeted human intelligence.
According to sources within the defense establishment, while the military conducts counterterrorism operations except in the city of Srinagar, much of the intelligence comes from personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, which is primarily the SOG .
In each district of the state, the SOG is headed by the Deputy Superintendent of Police (Operations), but its headquarters is “Cargo”.
As reported in 2019, each district of Kashmir has at least one or two SOG units, depending on the level of militant activity. Neighborhoods with a high number of militant strikes have four to ten units.
One of J&K’s most feared units, there have also been a number of allegations against it.
“I wanted to make sure that Cargo, a name that chilled the spine earlier, becomes a center of excellence and I guess that dream has been realized now,” DGP Dilbag Singh had said in September 2020, after the completion of an operation.
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