Reminiscent of 1990s:Paramilitary to encamp Srinagar’s downtown again

Srinagar: In the wake of recent spurt in militant attacks, particularly the recent strike owned by the Al Umar Mujahideen, the government is planning to encamp more Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and other paramilitary forces in old city or the Shahre-e-Khaas here, dragging the summer capital towards reminiscent of 1990s, when bunkers and other security installations mushroomed on the onset of armed insurgency.

Sources said in the first phase, the government plans to deploy some six companies of the paramilitary in old Srinagar areas. They said the forces would occupy vacant buildings while a reccee is understood to be underway. “The landlords whose buildings will be occupied are likely to get monthly rentals,” said an official, asking not to be named.

Besides, around one dozen bunkers are to come up in the downtown, which is the most populated area of the summer capital.

The areas where security camps or bunkers are likely to pop up include Safa Kadal, Nawa Kadal, Zaina Kadal, Eidgah, Fateh Kadal, Khanyar, Rainawari and Nowhatta.

Sources said the plan to “beef up security bandobast” is under discussion and that a formal approval from the state government is awaited. “Downtown is strategically important for the security forces, we cannot ignore the spurt in militancy and its suspected linkage with this area,” said an official in the Home Department asking not to be named.

For the past around a decade, in the wake of “improvement in situation”, the government had withdrawn considerable deployment of the paramilitary forces from the summer capital whereas the number of bunkers was equally reduced.

However, the revival of militancy coupled with continued unrest in Kashmir, seems to making the government to opt for “improvement in security paraphernalia.”

Sources said while the issue was already under discussion since “mass uprising” erupted in Kashmir in the wake of killing of Hizb commander Burhan Muzaffar Wani and his two colleagues on July 8, the recent spurt in militant strikes, particularly the one at Zukura on the Srinagar outskirts have heightened the tensions.

On October 14, militants attacked a Sashtra Seema Bal convoy killing its personnel while eight others were seriously injured at Zakura.

While the Al-Umar Mujahideen, headed by militant commander Mushtaq Zargar, owned the responsibility for the attack, the police investigations suggest the attack was executed by the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

But in either of the cases, intelligence agencies believe that militants were trying to strengthen their base in the summer capital, which is largely seen as a “militant-free district” for the past around four years.

Intelligence agencies believe that though militants managed to strike here a number of times, they had sneaked into the City from elsewhere only to carry out the attacks.

In the past five months, the militants made deadly appearance in Srinagar, at least four times.

On May 24, three policemen were killed in two separate attacks, in north and south City. The same evening, SOG Baramulla killed two Pakistani militants in a shootout in Sarai Bala area of the civil lines, where the duo, as per police, had been putting up as tenants in disguise of college students.

Thereafter, no such incident was reported till August 15, when militants attacked a CRPF patrol in congested Nowhatta locality near Jamia Masjid, killing the paramilitary commandant and wounding nine of his subordinates. Within hours, police claimed to have killed the attacker duo.

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