Post Protests, Government Relocates CRPF From One City Marriage Hall

by Mufti Islah

SRINAGAR: The CRPF troops, who were recently deployed in Kashmir after the targeted civilian killings, have started moving out of community and marriage halls in Srinagar after residents told the administration about space crunch in downtown to host functions during the peak marriage season.

Around 50 companies or 5,000 additional CRPF troops were recently dispatched to Kashmir, mostly in Srinagar, in the aftermath of civilian killings.

Some contingents of the CRPF troops reached Srinagar ahead of Union home minister Amit Shah’s three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir while others were deputed later. Due to lack of alternate space to accommodate a large number of troops within a short duration, many were stationed at marriage halls too.

Residents in a few localities told the government about the space crunch in downtown Srinagar during the peak marriage season from September to November, and community halls being used by locals for functions.

Srinagar Mayor Junaid Mattu, who raised the issue with Divisional Commissioner, said on Twitter, “I strongly favour that CRPF personnel deployed in Srinagar should have decent, appropriate housing facilities – but have strongly urged that Community Halls are left for community services. This is not a political issue – and should not be distorted as such.”

Former J&K chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti were critical of the community halls being handed over to the CRPF.

“My government built community/marriage halls & demolished bunkers in Srinagar. It’s disappointing to see the security situation in the city has now regressed so far that new bunkers have are being constructed & the marriage halls are being used as barracks for security forces,” Abdullah tweeted.

While Mufti said, “…CRPF personnel have been pushed into marriage halls which is the only private space left for people here.”

However, allaying criticism by the politicians, a senior officer told News 18 that the government was crunched for space and there was little time to find accommodation for the troops. “The process is on. No one wants to hassle citizens. We are finding alternatives,” the official said.

Charu Sinha, Inspector General, CRPF, said providing accommodation to the troops is the prerogative of the state administration. “As and when we get a decent accommodation for our troops, we will move out of the marriage halls,” Sinha said.

As many as 48 battalions of CRPF operate in Kashmir valley and another 19 in the Jammu region. The 5,000 additional troops, which were drafted recently, have been placed mostly in Srinagar with the 26 battalions functioning in Central Kashmir areas of Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal.

Mufti Islah works for TV News18. This report appeared on its website first.

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