Fearing student assemblage, police ‘locks up’ the space
SRINAGAR: The landmark Pratap Park located between two busiest thoroughfares of Srinagar—Residency Road and Maulana Azad Road—in the Lal Chowk area remains locked for most of the days, much to the inconvenience of common people. The re-designed park has six entry and exit gates, which remain mostly closed but on occasions one entry and exit point is kept open.
The park was adopted by a private company after the devastating floods of September 2014 ruined it completely. Under the corporate social responsibility, the company re-designed the park and restored its pristine glory with a modern touch. However, the new fencing and setting up designated entry and exit gates became a bane for the people who used to take shelter on its green turf or around the fountains during the day, especially in sunny days.
People from different areas of the Valley were usually seen spending their spare time inside the park but since its entrances remain closed, the park wears a deserted look.
“I had arrived in Srinagar to meet a chartered accountant regarding goods and services tax but he was not available. Therefore, I decided to spend some time in the park but I was disappointed to find the gates closed,” Abdul Majid Bhat, a businessman from Pulwama told Kashmir Reader.
Bhat said that he was constrained to climb over the fencing to get into the park and his dress suffered minor damage in the process.
Huma Fayaz, an undergraduate student from Women’s College said that she used to wait for her friends in the park but since the doors were closed she was not able to go inside. “I used to wait for my friends inside the park but now I wait for them near the foot bridge or inside the college,” she said.
Officials inside the Floriculture Department, who are responsible for the upkeep of the park told Kashmir Reader that police does not allow them to open the gates. “Police harass our staff stationed in the park and force them to close the gates since student agitation started in Srinagar,” one of the officials said.
He said that police claims to have concrete evidences that students assembled inside the park and take out the protest marches. “They (police) say that since it is the matter of law and order situation all the gates of park are closed on occasions.”
He said that the department has written to the Station House Officer of Kothibagh Police Station that the department cannot close the public park and if they want to close it they have to approach the department in writing and get the closure order from district magistrate.
Senior Superintendent of Police Srinagar, Imtiyaz Ismail Parray denied that police has objection to the opening of park. “We close the park whenever there are protests. You go and speak to deputy commissioner Srinagar,” he said.
Deputy commissioner Syed Abid Rashid refused to speak on the subject saying he was busy in a meeting.