Spared of R- Day hassles; frisking, door to door searches, housing troopers
SRINAGAR: The ongoing construction at Bakshi stadium in Srinagar has come as a big relief for nearby residents, who have been spared the heavy frisking and security drills associated with the R-Day event as the venue shifted to SK cricket stadium since 2018.
This time there was no frisking, no door-to-door searches, nor did youngsters have to temporarily migrate to relatives’ places to avoid questioning by the forces, as was norm ahead of January 26 in August 15 each year.
According to locals, during the three decades of heavily armed insurgency and intermittent uprisings, a huge population living around Bakshi Stadium, were frequented by forces for checks, searches and temporary stays around any event that was scheduled to be held here.
“This is the third time in our lives that our privacy was not breached,” said Mohammad Yousif, a resident of Haft Chinar, a locality adjacent to the stadium. “Otherwise we would have to allow the forces to search our homes daily, give them a space in our attics and at times feed them our food. This time, it was literally a relief.”
Ever since the anti-India insurgency erupted in 1990, Bakshi Stadium would be garrisoned each Republic and Independence Day by thousands of policemen and paramilitary troopers on duty against any possibility of militant attack. All the stadium’s exit points would be barricaded to prevent anti-India demonstrations. Heavily armed commandos would keep vigil for days together atop residences and commercial buildings. But this year, as Republic Day could not be commemorated at the stadium due to construction work there, the venue was shifted to the Sher-e-Kashmir Cricket Stadium, where the same security measures were followed.
Ali Muhammad, another resident, told Kashmir Reader that the forces would also erect makeshift bunkers outside the stadium gates. The day had to be called hours ahead of the arrival of dusk, and all movement would be restricted to homes to save lives from any potential militant attack.
“We had adopted a different life routine for these days. Wake up late, return home early, send young boys to relatives’ places. They would return only when the celebrations were over,” said Ghulam Rasool, another resident of the locality. “But this time, our routine was uninterrupted. This relief has come from God.”
The scene would be the same through Sarai Balla, Maharaja Bazaar and Goni Khan. These markets would also close early; but this year, there was no break. Even on Friday, shopkeepers downed shutters at dusk.