Srinagar Senior Superintendent of Police Rakesh Balwal, who has expertise in handling terror-related cases, has been "prematurely" repatriated to Manipur cadre where a fresh bout of violence has worsened the already tense situation.
The 2012 batch IPS officer, who was shifted to Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Mizoram and Union Territory (AGMUT) cadre in December 2021, will be assigned a new posting in Manipur upon his joining in the state, which has been witnessing clashes between the majority Meitei and the tribal Kuki communities since May this year.
"The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved the proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs for premature repatriation of Rakesh Balwal, IPS, from AGMUT cadre to Manipur cadre," an official order said.
Balwal, who is a resident of Udhampur in the Jammu region, has served in Manipur police in various capacities with the last being Senior Superintendent of Police, Churachandpur in 2017. He has served in the Thobal and Imphal areas as well.
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He took over as SSP Srinagar at a time when the city was witnessing a lot of terror activities, including the killing of members of the minority and attacks on policemen. After taking over, Balwal focussed on improving the law-and-order situation within the city, ensuring that the presence of terrorists was reduced to near zero and maintaining that no attacks were carried out either on minorities or security forces.
It was during his tenure that Muharram's procession was allowed on the roads after three decades and public participation in the Independence Day functions was allowed this year.
International events like hosting the G-20 Tourism Working Group meeting were conducted peacefully during his tenure as the city police chief. Balwal was awarded the Union Home Minister's medal for investigation, the Chief of Army Staff Commendation and a disc from the Director General of CRPF.
It was during his tenure that Miwaiz Umer Farooq was released from house detention recently and allowed to hold Friday prayers at the historical Jama Masjid after more than four years.
Before taking charge as Srinagar SSP, Balwal was on deputation with the NIA for three-and-half years as superintendent of police and was a member of the team that investigated the 2019 Pulwama terror attack in which 40 CRPF personnel lost their lives.
On June 1, Rajiv Singh, a 1993-batch IPS officer of the Tripura cadre, was appointed as Manipur's new director general of police. More than 180 people have been killed and several hundred injured since ethnic violence broke out in Manipur on May 3, when a 'Tribal Solidarity March' was organised in the hill districts to protest against the majority Meitei community's demand for Scheduled Tribe status.
A fresh bout of violence, this time led by students, broke out in the state capital on Tuesday after photos of the bodies of two youths who went missing in July went viral on social media. Violent protests continued till the early hours of Thursday with a mob vandalising the deputy commissioner's office in Imphal West and torching two four-wheelers, officials said.
On Wednesday night, the protesters clashed with security personnel in Uripok, Yaiskul, Sagolband and Tera areas, prompting the forces to fire several rounds of tear gas shells to control the situation, they said.
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