Officials Say Part Of ‘Internal Rationalization’
Srinagar: At least five additional CRPF companies have been brought into Srinagar from various parts of Kashmir with officials stating the additional forces have been brought in as part of “internal rationalisation.”
However, what has triggered a debate is that at some places in Srinagar, the additional CRPF men have been lodged in marriage halls located in civilian areas.
A CRPF official said that they are in Kashmir to assist J&K police and they don’t go to any place unless they are sought.
“It is the J&K administration and the police that sends requisition to the Ministry of Home Affairs after which fresh deployment of CRPF men is made,” the official said.
Asked how many additional companies of CRPF have been brought in to Srinagar, he gave a guarded reply stating that some five additional CRPF companies have arrived in Srinagar at the “request of administration and police.”
Pertinently, each CRPF company comprises 100 to 135 men and each company is headed by an Assistant Commandant rank officer. This signifies that over 500 additional CRPF men have arrived in Srinagar.
Media reports quoting officials in the J&K administration said the Union government is deploying an additional 50 companies of the CRPF and 25 Border Security Forces (BSF) companies in parts of Kashmir. According to these reports the deployment of paramilitary forces has been increased on the directions of the Union home ministry.
The reports said that deployment of paramilitary forces will be made in the areas where members of the minority community are putting up. “There would be forces deployment in the vulnerable areas as well and also near government schools, apart from other identified areas,” he said.
“The (Srinagar) district administration has marked marriage halls in Suthrashahi, Barbar Shah, Nowshehr, Ilahi Bagh, Mal Bagh and other localities for lodging newly arrived paramilitary forces,” said a media report from New Delhi.
CRPF spokesman in Srinagar Abhiram Pankaj however said that a few companies of CRPF have been lodged in one or two marriage halls in Srinagar.
“Some additional CRPF men have been brought in from south and north Kashmir areas to be deployed in Srinagar. Our deployment is based on the requisition by the UT administration or the police, we don’t come on our own,” he said.
Asked why the troopers were housed in community halls, the official said the places for accommodating the forces were chosen by the civil administration.
"The CRPF is getting deployed at the behest of the civil administration. They put us into a place of their choosing," he added.
Meanwhile, a senior official in the J&K administration said that the CRPF men will soon be shifted from marriage halls to alternate accommodations. “They were lodged temporarily in one or two marriage halls in Srinagar and will be shifted to alternate accommodations within a few days,” the official said.
Earlier, locals of Shuthrashi and Illahibagh-Malpora area of Srinagar had lodged a protest against the authorities’ decision of lodging CRPF men in marriage halls in their areas.
Meanwhile National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah on Saturday said the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir had "regressed" to such an extent that community halls built during his tenure as chief minister of the erstwhile state were being used as barracks for security forces.
"My Government built community/marriage halls & demolished bunkers in Srinagar. It's disappointing to see the security situation in the city has now regressed so far that new bunkers are being constructed & the marriage halls are being used as barracks for security forces," he wrote on Twitter.
Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti also lashed out at the government over the move, and said every day more draconian laws are brought in with the sole purpose of suffocating people into silence.
"After placing security bunkers at every nook & corner of Srinagar, CRPF personnel have been pushed into marriage halls which is the only private space left for people here. Every day more draconian laws are brought in with the sole purpose of suffocating people into silence," she tweeted.
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