Located in the heart of Srinagar’s busy commercial area, Partap Park is a landmark in itself. But for hundreds of visitors, college students, and people who flock to Srinagar for various works, this park is one of the few places where they can sit and rest. Located between Residency road and Maulana Azad road, out of six entry and exit points only two are functional, rest are closed for reasons known to nobody.
“We face a lot of problems these days as we have to walk from one end to other to reach to find a possible way to get inside the park,” said a local girl.
People from different areas of the Valley were usually seen spending their spare time inside the park but since its entrances remain closed, the park wears a deserted look.
“When gates are open we come and sit in the park after college and discuss our homework. But now we can’t do that. It is difficult to cross the park as gates are located quite apart,” said Yamin, a college going boy.
“The park is for people where they can spend their leisure time. As most of the city is surrounded by concrete buildings, this park is one of the few green spaces left where one can breathe freely. Locking it up is unfair to the people who come from far-away places,” said an official from Floriculture department.
Keeping in view the difficulties faced by visitors, an official of floriculture department has written three letters in last eight days to his superiors seeking their intervention.
“A police official has asked us to close the park in order to maintain law and order,” said an official from Floriculture. “After Shopian killings there were apprehensions that there would be law and order issues once schools will be open. If we don’t close the park and anything happens, we will be blamed.”
But the department refused to lock the park as it is against the policy of floriculture department.
“We asked them if they have any orders from the government regarding the closure but they had none. So we didn’t close the park gates and asked our workers to keep them open for public.”
However, official claims that his workers were harassed by the police as they refused to lock the park. “I asked them not to risk their lives and let the police do whatever they want. Let them lock if they want to but don’t do anything on your own as it’s against our protocol.”
According to some officials from the floriculture department, continuous protests in Press Enclave, which is located opposite the park, has become a cause of concern for the police. “Parks are not meant for protests. But some protestors even have erected tents inside the park,” said an official.
When contacted an official from Kothi Bagh police station said, “Pratap Park is undergoing renovation and that is the reason for its lockdown.”
(Uruss Shah has contributed to this story)