July 2006 News

Kashmir security stretched to limits for Kalam visit

26 July 2006
Indo-Asian News Service

Srinagar: With only two days to go before President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam visits this volatile Jammu and Kashmir capital, security forces and the administration are stretching their resources to the limit to ensure that nothing goes wrong.Kalam's visit Friday comes amid heightened guerrilla activity in the valley - with the 7-11 serial blasts here and Mumbai in which over 200 people were killed still fresh in people's mind - and the administration says it can leave nothing to chance.'We have to attend to even the most minute details. Nothing can be left to chance,' said a senior police official here.'The militants have in the past carried out attacks to coincide with VVIP visits to Kashmir. That is part of their strategy, but we are doing everything possible to thwart their designs,' said Farooq Ahmad, deputy inspector general of police (Central Kashmir).Kalam, who stays overnight here before leaving for Ladakh Saturday, will inaugurate a jurists' conference at the picturesque Sher-e-Kashmir International Convention Complex (SKICC) on Friday. The Kashmir Bar Association has announced that it would not attend the conference, which is part of the golden jubilee celebrations of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. However, a battery of prominent jurists from all over the country is likely to participate.The president would then address a joint session of the state's bicameral legislature the same day.A visit to a school is also on the cards.'He is likely to spare some time from his busy schedule to interact with local schoolchildren both at the SKICC and at a local school he would visit that day,' said a senior state government official.The visit of the country's first citizen and the supreme commander of the armed forces is a challenge the security forces have been hectically preparing for. Days ahead of the visit, special squads were formed to deal exclusively with security issues concerning the visit. Areas around the SKICC, on the banks of the Dal Lake, are being scanned for any possible militant activity. This surveillance also covers the mountains overlooking the SKICC.'The lake is also being fully sanitised,' said a senior officer.'Militants have definitely sped up their activities through grenade explosions targeting tourists, security forces and even the ordinary locals recently. They are basically after media publicity while trying to ensure that they do so without suffering any casualties.'Security forces have also drawn up a long list of suspects and are keeping a close watch on their activities.


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