Srinagar Shivers Under Thick Security Blanket

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SRINAGAR:   A multi-layered security cover has been thrown over the city ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Saturday visit with thousands of security personnel deployed across the city to keep a hawk-eyed vigil against any possible militant strike and to prevent gathering of people for the proposed parallel rally announced by the Hurriyat factions. 

Personnel, drawn from paramilitary forces and J&K Police, have been deployed in high security areas, especially in and around Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium where Prime Minister Modi will address his first public rally after his party, the BJP, came to power for the first time ever in partnership with the PDP, in India’s only Muslim majority state in March this year.

Scores of check-points have been set-up in and around capital to carry out checking of vehicles in order to foil any possible militants action ahead or during the visit, officials said.

However security arrangements received a jolt after suspected militants managed to attack a police party with a grenade in Khanyar locality barely 3 kilometers from the venue of the rally Thursday evening.

Government forces have been frisking pedestrians and carrying out thorough checking of the vehicles entering the city from other districts and keeping a record of such vehicles and their drivers.

“Security forces have set-up check-points along the roads connecting Srinagar with other districts and entry of vehicle as well as passenger details, including phone numbers of the drivers and the time of their entry into the city, is made,” the officials said.

The venue for Prime Ministers rally – Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium – has been turned into a virtual fortress with Special Protection Group (SPG) taking over it, the officials said, adding a large posse of police and paramilitary personnel have also been deployed in and around the area to secure it.

Security sources said aerial surveillance will be conducted of the area during the rally hours.

Many CCTV cameras have been installed in and around the venue to keep an eye on the movement of people.

“CCTV cameras have also been installed atop some vehicles of the security forces,” they said.

The officials said anti-sabotage checks have being carried out in the surrounding areas of the venue to ensure fool-proof security for the high profile visit of the Prime Minister this week.

Modi is scheduled to address a public rally here on November 7, besides inaugurating the 450-megawatt Baglihar Phase II power project in Ramban district of the state.

As the Hurriyat factions have called for a parallel rally to that of the Prime Minister at Tourist Reception Centre ground – stone’s throw from cricket stadium, the authorities have carried out a crackdown on them to foil their plans.

Hundreds of separatists have been taken into preventive detention while some leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq have been placed under house arrest.

Panic Buying, Traffic Jams

The massive security measures led to traffic jams at a number of places in the city on Thursday. The situation got worse as people in large numbers came out to shop and stock essentials to weather out the long home confinement. Police has already announced curbs in most parts of the city on Friday while it is widely believed that the city will be placed under an undeclared curfew on Saturday to scuttle any attempts by separatists to march to TRC Ground.

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