Srinagar, Apr 4 (PTI) Known for always leading from front, Inspector General of Police (Kashmir range) Swayam Prakash Pani today visited volatile downtown of the city, an area infamous for stone pelting and militant attacks, on a day when separatists have called for a strike.

Pani, 41, talked to the police personnel posted outside the historic Jama Masjid area which invariably witnesses stone pelting after every Friday prayers.

Significantly, Pani stood at the same spot where Deputy Superintendent of Police Ayub Pandit was brutally lynched by a mob in June last year, an incident that was widely condemned.

The Joint Resistance Forum, comprising separatists groups including both the Hurriayt Conference factions, had called for a ‘bandh’ today to protest the killing of 13 militants in Shopian on Sunday.

Pani, who has the distinction of being the youngest IPS officer to have become IGP, Kashmir range, asked his men about the difficulties they faced performing duties.

He also visited the Nowhatta Police Station and met his men on the ground to give clear instructions that all laid down standard operational procedures need to be followed while dealing with law and order situations.

The visit was primarily aimed at familiarisation with the men deployed on ground and interacting with them in appreciation of the nature of duties they are undertaking, a police spokesman said, adding the IGP covered areas of Sheri Khas also.

Pani has held the post of Superintendent of Police (Kulgam) in early 2000. The area was highly infested with foreign mercenaries at that time and Pani led several operations till the area was cleared completely.

After central deputation with the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Intelligence Bureau (IB), Pani was posted as Deputy Inspector General of South Kashmir at a time when the entire area was witnessing widespread disturbance following the killing of Burhan Wani, often referred to as Hizbul Mujahideen’s poster boy.

During his stint in South Kashmir, Pani was again in action against as he led operations from the front till he ensured that militants and separatists groups were pushed to the backfoot.

He also encouraged that parents of newly recruited militants are allowed to talk to their wards to convince them to shun the path of violence.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.