Ahead of Modi Visit, Pervasive Security Measures Create Chaos In City

Mohammad Raafi



security beefed up
Paramilitary man frisking pedestrians in Srinagar on Thursday. (Photo: Bilal Bahadur)

Ahead of PM Modi’s visit to the state, Srinagar has been virtually turned into a prison with security drills going on everywhere. Barricades have been placed in and outside the Srinagar city and all exit and entry points have been sealed, officials said.

People entering the city centre from downtown and outskirts complained about being frisked at numerous places.

With Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium, the venue of Modi’s rally, already being handed over to security agencies, the Dalgate and Sonwar areas of Srinagar wore prison-like looks with hundreds of police and paramilitary men manning streets on armoured vehicles.

“I was surprised today in the morning when I went out to purchase bread,” said Faik Ali, a resident of Sonwar. “There was police and paramilitary everywhere. It reminded me of nineties when these things were a norm.”

In the volatile area of Old city which is prone to outbreaks of stone-pelting, forces rolled out stringent security measures particularly in wake of ‘Million March’ campaign called by the separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani. The call has been supported by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik.

A police official posted in Khanyar said they have been directed to keep a close eye on the movement of Hurriyat activists and detain them whenever and wherever necessary. Authorities have been facing immense public ire following arrest spree. Several youth have been put under preventive detention to ensure a “trouble-free” rally on Saturday.

“We have already detained almost a dozen Hurriyat activists,” he said. “We are monitoring the movement of stone-pelters as well.”

The presence of barricades on almost every street has worsened the traffic situation in Srinagar. Since early morning, reports of traffic congestions came from several parts of city.

“We were checked at four places while travelling from Ganderbal to Lal Chowk,” a group of employees said. “Our vehicle was searched and even lunch boxes we carried were sneaked into.”

Meanwhile reports said that movement of traffic from Pantha Chowk towards Srinagar has been stopped and vehicles have been directed to take the bypass route to enter the city. The diversion has reportedly prompted massive snarls near the outskirts.

“It took me four hours to reach Srinagar from Islamabad,” said a lady from South Kashmir. “There is a huge traffic chaos on Highway due to barricades and traffic diversions.”

In areas like Parimpora and Qamarwari, massive traffic gridlocks were reported since early morning. People travelling from North Kashmir had to reach city centre by walking a distance of nearly five kilometres by feet.

Pertinently, police on Wednesday said that it has detained 237 activists of pro-freedom groups and arrested all the major separatist leaders ahead of the proposed Million March.

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