SRINAGAR: Police have set up a bunker inside Pratap Park in the city centre and are refusing to budge. Police have also kept keys of the park gate towards the Maulana Azad (MA) Road to themselves, since the third week of October this year when this bunker was set up, said Nazir Ahmad, a floriculture department official deployed in the park.
Pratap Park, which adds to the beauty of the city centre, was re-opened for public in June 2016 after the devastating floods in September 2014. Now the public park has become one more place for government forces to station their men.
“Police from Kothi Bagh station said that they would set up the bunker for only eight to ten days, but now they aren’t evacuating the park,” Nazir Ahmad said.
He said that since the ’90s this is the first time that a bunker has been set up inside any public park. The matter has been reported to higher officials in the floriculture department, he said.
Irshad Ahmad, a visitor to the park, said public places should not be for the police to set up bunkers in. He said that in a place like Kashmir, setting up a bunker inside a public park puts the safety of visitors at risk.
“Looks like Kashmir is back in the 90s,” said another visitor.
Assistant Floriculture Officer (AFO) Imran Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that the police have cited security reasons for construction of this bunker. “We are afraid to ask them to evacuate. We have asked higher-ups to have it removed as it causes discomfort to visitors,” he said.
He added that police had initially told the floriculture department that the bunker was only temporary.
Station House Officer (SHO) Kothi Bagh Sajad Ahmad denied any comments about the bunker inside Pratap Park. He said that the floriculture department should talk to the police themselves.
“Who are you to ask anything about the bunker? Let the floriculture officials come to us,” he said.
Director Floriculture Mathora Masoom told Kashmir Reader that the department has received complaints from people and the park staff. She said that they have taken up the matter with the concerned SSP.
“We have requested the authorities to shift the bunker to some other place as this is a public park,” she said.