On a road adjacent to a power station in central Kashmir's Chadoora, security personnel watch the movement of vehicles from sandbag bunkers. Many vehicles are checked and people are also frisked round the clock. Drivers have to make their way through steel barricades and iron drums. At night, police and the paramilitary personnel stop vehicles and note down registration numbers as well as mobile phone numbers on sheets of paper.
Such scenes have been common in Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, a move that allows non-residents to buy land in Kashmir. The Kashmir Valley has remained shut, even as demonstrations have been taken out at different places to protest the decision to revoke the special status of the state.
Recently, there have been reports of a large number of militants having managed to sneak in from across the border. There have also been reports that some local youths joined the militant ranks. Following this, there has been an increase in the deployment of police and paramilitary personnel on the roads. The sandbags on roads, especially the ones outside camps of security forces, are reminiscent of the period in 1990s after the eruption of militancy.
Earlier, during the regimes of the Congress, PDP and National Conference, many of these bunkers were removed from roads after local people complained about them. However, now, at many roads in Srinagar and on its outskirts, security personnel have stationed armoured vehicles. They even ask people to turn off vehicle headlines at night on long stretches of roads. Any resistance to the turning off the headlights involves the threats of beatings by the forces.
The forces have also resumed cordon and search operations in Kashmir, even as officials admit that the flow of information about the presence of militants in some areas has been affected due to the suspension of mobile phone services.
On Wednesday night, army and the police personnel carried out searches at some houses in Shahpora colony of Wathoora on the outskirts of Srinagar city.
Nazir Ahmad, 56, who works as butcher, said that his house was raided at around 11.15 pm on Wednesday night and the family members were asked to move out into the lawn to allow the troops to carry out the searches.
Ahmed said, “We were shocked over the raids at our house. All the family members, including women, were asked to move out into the lawn and we were made to wait there for at least half an hour before the cordon was lifted. One of my sons was taken along into the house during the searches.”
Local residents said that they were woken up from sleep and were “terrified” as they came across the strong presence of army and police personnel in the Wathoora neighbourhood. “No militants are active in the area, and neither have we witnessed any stone-pelting incidents since the abrogation of Article 370. We were surprised over the raids,” said a local resident.
Police officials said that additional reinforcements have been made in Kashmir amid the threat of militant attacks as well as to foil any public demonstrations. The level of protests has, however, significantly come down with only stray incidents of small demonstrations having been reported from different places.
A police official said that the movement of militants has increased in different places in Srinagar city as well. The official said that the police fear that bike-borne militants might carry out attacks on police and army patrols. Around 60 militants are reported to have sneaked in from across the border since the revocation of the special status.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, Central Kashmir range, Vidhi Kumar Birdi, said that the police have stepped up the vigil to foil any attacks by militants in Srinagar.
Senior army officials said that following increased attempts by militants to sneak in from across the border, they have intensified their vigil, particularly along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir.
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Updated Date: Oct 04, 2019 08:12:10 IST