After outburst, CRPF vacates marriage hall in Sgr, another occupied

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Srinagar: Following the public outburst against the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) taking over the marriage hall in Shutrashahi in Srinagar, the troops vacated the building on Sunday evening providing a much- needed relief to the locals living in the area.

Talking with The Kashmir Walla, local residents in Shutrashahi said that the evacuation of the CRPF is a “big relief” for the residents, who were living “under fear” for the past few days.

“We genuinely were living under constant fear for the past three days. Our girls have hardly moved out from their houses all these days,” said 45-year-old Javeda.

“Being a congested area, the presence of the military was making us uncomfortable. We were not even able to peep out from our windows,” she said.  

On Friday, The Kashmir Walla had exclusively reported that at least two marriage halls were taken over by the paramilitary forces. Following this several reports emerged about the same leading to backlash from the political leaders. 

Following the order of additional deployment of 5000 troops of the CRPF in Kashmir, CRPF had occupied marriage halls in Shatrashahi, Illahi Bagh and have also done recce in the Barbarshah, Nowshera and other areas in the city last week.       

The Government of India (GoI) has ordered the deployment of an additional 5,000 (50 companies) troops of the central paramilitary forces in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the recent spate of killings of migrant workers.

As per the reports, the Union Home Ministry said the decision to deploy an additional 50 companies was taken considering the present situation in the Valley.

The reports said that of 5000 CRPF, 3000 forces, that include 11 CRPF companies and 19 BSF companies, would be deployed in Srinagar alone. Moreover, five additional CRPF companies comprising over 500 men have also been deported in Srinagar from South and north Kashmir parts as part of “international rationalisation.”

Similarly, five companies would be deployed in Anantnag and three companies each in Ganderbal, Pulwama and Shopian. Two companies each have been allotted for Kulgam, Awantipora and Baramulla.

President of the co-ordination committee Shatrashahi housing colony Shabir Raja, said the CRPF left on a cordial note and they brought no harm to the locals during their presence in the marriage hall.

“We are happy that the administration has listened to us. And have made the CRPF to shift from this place. We are thankful to the media who highlighted this issue,” Raja said.

Ali Mohammad Sheikh, an SMC employee who works as a caretaker of the marriage hall, said that apart from a damaged water pipe, the building has been handed over intact without any damage.

“I used to live here (marriage hall) but after the CRPF took over the building, I shifted to a rented room nearby, but now I’m back here,” Sheikh said, while cleaning the building.

Talking with The Kashmir Walla, Srinagar Mayor Junaid Mattu said that he had raised the matter of handing over the marriage halls in the city to the troops with the Divisional Commissioner.

“Being an administration decision, I had no say in the decision of handing over the marriage hall to the troops, and neither was I consulted. But I had raised the issue with the Divisional Commissioner and he had assured me that alternate options will be explored,” Mattu said.

Despite several attempts the Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir P. K. Pole didn’t respond to the calls and text messages.

Meanwhile, CRPF continues to occupy the Illahi Bagh marriage hall after taking over the building last week.

The CRPF PRO Abhiram Pankaj said that the extra troops have been deployed in the city following the killing of civilians in the past month, but the decision on their accommodation is decided by the administration in accordance with the police department.

Additional reporting by Umer Asif

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