Kashmir Valley On High Alert After Target Killings

KO Photos By Abid Bhat

Srinagar: The government forces on Monday heightened security measures, increased frisking of passersby and random checking of vehicles across Kashmir amid a new cycle of killings, mostly of migrant labourers, by suspected militants.

According to reports, the police and paramilitary forces conducted day-long search operations to infuse a sense of security among migrant labourers and also to keep a check on suspects. The intense security measures came in the aftermath of recent killings of migrant labourers coupled with intelligence inputs suggesting that militants were planning to carry out attacks on vital security installations.

Here in Srinagar, scores of checkpoints popped up on Monday morning where people were lined up, frisked and subjected to identification checks by heavily armed cops and paramilitary men.

At many places here, reports said, the specially trained Special Operations Group (SOG) personnel carried out surprise checking of people.

At the historic Ganta Ghar and Hari Singh High Street, forces were seen conducting searches on regular intervals.

According to reports, scores of two-wheelers were confiscated by the forces during random searches in Nehru Park, Dalgate, Barzulla, Shaheed Gunj, Rajbagh, Rainawari, SK Park, Budshah Bridge, Maulana Azad link road and other places in this capital city.

The police action of seizing the bikes left many residents fuming.

Imran Mir, who has been waiting outside Police Station (PS) Batamaloo since morning to get his bike released, told Kashmir Observer that people understand that situation is critical but why wasn’t there any specific information from police before launching this crackdown on bikes.

“If the police would’ve told us, then who would have come out to face such brutal hassles,” Mir said, adding “At the end of the day it boils down to commoners only,”

He further added that, “When people who were waiting outside the PS tried to enquire about the specific reasons behind seizure of their bikes from police, they started harassing the bikers and beat them.”

“If I was carrying all the legal documents and helmet, then why was my vehicle seized? There’s no law in the country that permits this unnecessary seizure of bikes.” says Mir, an accountant for a local establishment.

 

Mushtaq Khan, another biker, told Kashmir Observer that police have been “dodging the reasons” behind seizure of their bikes.

“None of us were a part of the recent targeted killings, then why are we being made to suffer unnecessarily,” he said.

“I’m a middle class guy. I’d bought a scooty to reach my workplace early so that my employer doesn’t deduct my salary for being late to the office. But this unnecessary police action has cost me a day’s salary,” he added.

Khan added that he had left for work early as the weather was quite bad but since then, he has been waiting outside Rajbagh police station.

The heightened security in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley comes amid a sharp spike in civilian killings over the last two weeks.

In the most recent attack, suspected militants on Sunday shot dead two migrant workers and critically injured another in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district.

A day earlier, suspected militants shot in the head 30-year-old Arvind Kumar Sah, a street vendor from Banka in Bihar, in Eidgah area of the Old City. Barely an hour later, Saghir Ahmad, a carpenter hailing from Uttar Pradesh, was shot dead in Pulwama district.

“There's a high alert in the wake of recent targeted killings and the J&K police along with CRPF has intensified the security grid around the valley especially in the city,” CRPF spokesperson, Abhi Ram Pankaj told Kashmir Observer.

However, Pankaj said that there were no specific inputs of a possible militant strike and the security has primarily been intensified in wake of targeted killings.

“Today's crackdown on two wheelers is also one of them. The militants usually use two wheelers to execute their nefarious activities and by launching a crackdown on bikes, the security agencies are trying to save the locals as well as non-locals against these militants,” the CRPF spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, reports of intense checking and frisking were also received from all entry and exit points in this capital city.

Mobile Internet Snapped In Parts Of Valley

Meanwhile, PTI reported that the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Monday suspended mobile internet in parts of Srinagar and some areas in the twin districts of Kulgam and Pulwama in south Kashmir.

In Srinagar, mobile internet services were snapped on Monday evening in eight areas, including Anchar, Eidgah, Qamarwari, Soura, Maharaj Gunj, Bagyass, Nowhatta, and SafaKadal, reports said.

Similarly, the internet services were also cut-off in Wanpoh and Qaimoh in Kulgam and Litter in Pulwama district.

The suspension of internet services in Srinagar and the two south Kashmir districts comes amid a spate of attacks on migrant labourers by suspected militants in the last two weeks. So far, 11 people, mostly migrant workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh have been killed allegedly by militants in the last fortnight.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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