New dress code makes FPF guards vulnerable

Published at August 19, 2018 01:03 AM 0Comment(s)1887views

Will make change in dress code if possible: Director 

Javid Ahmad

Srinagar, Aug 16:

The new dress code for Jammu and Kashmir Forest Protection Force (FPF) guards has become a cause of concern for them as they feel it would put their lives at grave risk.
However, the FPF guards have refused to adhere to the new police-like dress code.
The FPF headquarters issued the dress code order in November 2017, invoking section-6 of Jammu and Kashmir Forest (Protect Force Act, 2001 read with rule-15 and rule-60 (1) of Jammu Kashmir Forest (Protection) Force Rules 2012.
According to the order, ranks with one star and above were directed to wear brown coloured shoes and belts while other ranks below one-star (Deputy Inspector) were asked to wear black coloured shoes and belts.
The change in the dress code in FPF followed restructuring of the department and change in nomenclature of different cadres of the Force.
The present dress code for FPF guards comprises black pent and shit with black shoes and belt.
According to FPF guards, the new dress code has made them vulnerable to militant attacks, thus posing a grave risk their lives.
“With the changed uniform, we will look like policemen. This has put us in fear and danger while discharging duties in forest areas. We are completely into checking forest wealth and have nothing to do with anti-militancy operations,” said a FPF guard, pleading anonymity.
Before the 2017 change in uniform, the FPF guards would wear Khaki pent and shirt with red shoes and belt.
“We are dealing with forests where militants too operate especially in Kashmir. The red shoes and the red belt would make us look different from actual policemen and give us a sense of safety even when we discharge duty in forests,” said the FPF guard.
Fearing threat to their lives, the FPF guards posted in Kashmir are refusing to follow the new dress code.
“We will not accept the new dress code. Red shoes and belt differentiates us from constables and we can’t risk our lives,” said another FPF guard in Srinagar.
He said it was for the third time that department has made changes in their uniform.
The previous uniforms, he said, would make them completely look different from policemen and there were zero chances of misunderstanding.
The J&K Forest Protection Force was formed in 1996 on police pattern. The strength of the force has increased from 2257 posts in 1996 to 2427 including watchers in 2013.
According to sources, some 700 FPF guards are working in 23 Gama Units across all the Forest divisions of the State.
The Forest Protection Force was created to assist Forest Department and other departments in enforcing the Forest Laws on the ground and ensuring better protection of forests and forest property.
On August 15, a contingent of FPF guards which took part in August 15 function in Srinagar were seen wearing Khaki with red shoes and belts.
Sources said FPF guards in Jammu, Kathua, Rajoura were found not following the new dress code during the rehearsals before August 15 and they were directed to comply with the 2017 dress code.
Subsequently, the FPF guards in Jammu region followed the new dress code on August function in Jammu.
Since the FFP was formed on police pattern, its personnel are trained in handling of arms and ammunition and in forestry. Besides, officers also undergo short term capsule training courses.
Director FPF, Asif Mehmood Sagar told Rising Kashmir that the change in uniform was brought to ensure distinction in ranks of FPF officials.
On apprehensions of FPF guards, he said anyone can become a target in forests.
“It is not that only guards can become the target in forests. Anyone can be targetted in forests as officials also wear the uniform,” he said.
On whether the apprehensions of guards were genuine in view of mandatory maintenance of dress code, Director FPF said their apprehensions would be assessed.
“We will assess their apprehensions and make another change in dress code if possible,” Sagar said.





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