SRINAGAR: With the day approaching of the start of municipal polls in Kashmir, the government has tightened “security measures” in and around the city. Unprecedented arrangements have been put in place by the authorities by establishing dozens of check-posts in the city including at Dalgate, Maulana Azad Road, Residency Road, Amira Kadal, Budshah Bridge, Jahangir Chowk, and Batamaloo.
In downtown areas, police and paramilitary forces are checking vehicles, particularly bikers, demanding identity cards and other documents and frisking passengers thoroughly. As barricades have been put in place on several routes, it has hampered the smooth flow of traffic and is causing frequent traffic jams.
According to commuters, police and paramilitary CRPF have established checkpoints at almost all major intersections. They said that all entry and exit points of the city are being sealed by the government forces at dusk.
“When I leave for home after closing my shop in the evening, the presence of troops on roads is much more. They keep checking vehicles and documents. I prefer to leave early these days,” said Rayees Ahmad, who runs a shop at Lal Chowk.
While some see these measures “temporary” as the elections are near, many believe that security was already beefed up at many places after militancy incidents increased in the city.
“The check-posts and frisking started much earlier, after militancy incidents in Srinagar increased. Yes, they have increased it more now because of the elections, but in reality the attacks in the city and rifle-snatching incidents had already unnerved the government,” said a youth while his vehicle was being frisked.
Many private-sector employees who work late in their offices say that although these measures look routine during the day, it is really “frightful” when masked troops stop their vehicles late in the evening.
“I live in downtown and come late from my office. Every day I am stopped at check-posts on the way home. I feel frightened at times when a huge posse of troops surround my vehicle,” said a downtown youth, requesting anonymity.
ADGP Law and Order/Security Munir Khan while talking to media persons recently said that the security plan would be in place for 60 days to secure areas where polling will take place. He said that additional forces would be deployed and night patrolling would be also conducted.