In Srinagar, paramilitary forces take over marriage halls, locals aghast

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Srinagar: Many marriage halls in Srinagar are being overtaken by the paramilitary forces following the order of additional deployment of 5000 troops of the central Reserve Paramilitary Forces (CRPF) in Kashmir.

Sources told The Kashmir Walla, that in the past two days, CRPF have occupied marriage halls in Shatrashahi, Illahi Bagh areas of Srinagar city and have also done recce in the Barbarshah, Nowshera and other areas.      

The Government of India (GoI) has ordered the deployment of an additional 5000 (50 companies) troops of the CRPF in Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of the recent spate of civilian killings last month.

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.

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

Sources said that to accommodate additional troops, the Commissioner Srinagar Municipality Committee (SMC) held a meeting with the real estate officer to hand over the marriage halls to the paramilitary forces.

Local residents in Shatrashahi area told The Kashmir Walla that the CRPF came on Monday and visited the marriage hall. Next day, on Tuesday, a fleet of trucks along with the troops took over the building.

“We live in a very congested area and to have a presence of CRPF in the locality will be uncomfortable for us to carry out our daily work,” said Azi, a 50-year-old resident. “I have daughters at home, how will they move out, especially during dark hours.”

President of the coordination committee of Shatrashahi housing colony, Shabir Raja, told The Kashmir Walla that nobody informed them about the CRPF over taking the marriage hall in their locality.

“We were surprised to see the presence of large troops in our locality. We are not against the deployment of troops in the city but they should be accommodated at a place where there is less residential population,” said Raja.

Raja said that the marriage hall was the only place in their area where they used to hold all the events.

“Be it a wedding or a death in a family, we (residents) used to conduct all the events in this marriage hall. Now, we don’t have any space left in our locality to carry out any proceedings,” he said.

Another local resident, Javeda, 45, said that they are feeling insecure in the presence of CRPF in their vicinity.

“We don’t feel secure anymore. What if anything untoward incident takes place here. Where will we go,” she said.

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

“It is true that the extra forces were deployed in the city. But, we (CRPF) don’t have any say about their accommodation,” Pankaj said.

Sources in the administration said that the decision to accommodate the additional troops is coordinated by the Divisional Commissioner’s office.

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

Additional reporting by Umer Asif

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