12 Bunkers Removed In Srinagar17 March 2011
Srinagar: Old City areas in Srinagar breathed easy on Thursday as Central Reserve Police Force removed several bunkers and pickets from various locations. Official sources said interlocutors had recommended withdrawal of paramilitary troops from downtown but the move is understood to be a part of home ministry’s fresh strategy against Maoists and Naxalites who now operate in almost one-third of the country. CRPF spokesman in Srinagar, Prabhakar Tripathi termed the development as a “strategic decision” and said that the CRPF was ready to ‘leave’ Kashmir the way it did in Punjab as militancy level had gone down. “We are a reserve force. Kashmir militancy has gone down and our primary job, which is to protect life and property, seems to be over. We are ready to serve the country anywhere in case any decision in that regard is taken.” Valley presently houses 21 battalions of CRPF deployed across Kashmir. Sources privy to the development revealed home ministry was mulling withdrawal of at least ten thousand CRPF men in order to deploy them in militancy areas elsewhere in the country. “The GoI has a plan to re-deploy all relieved CRPF men from Kashmir to fight Naxalites,” a top security official who wished anonymity said adding the armed militancy in Kashmir had reached to almost zero level. The total number of bunkers removed since the appointment of interlocutors in October last year has reached to 40 while 10 to 15 CRPF bunkers still exist in the city. On the sidelines of bunker-removal activity in downtown Tripathi told Rising Kashmir the areas cleared of long-standing bunkers included Islamia College, Nowhatta, Zaina Kadal, Saraf Kadal, Rainawari and Karangar. One bunker from Gogji Bagh area near Amar Singh College has also been removed. He said 40 bunkers have been removed from the city so far while 10 to 15 still exist. “We are happy with the move. The development will help bridge the gap between the people of downtown and CRPF,” he said. Sources said the move assumes significance owing to the fact that interlocutors had strongly recommended the continuation of bunker removal process especially in old city as a major CBM. “The step will also help stop stone pelting. During the last year’s summer unrest, many youth were killed after throwing stones on the CRPF bunkers. When there would be no bunkers, stone pelting won’t take place,” sources said. One of the key interlocutors, Professor Radha Kumar admitted that they had been lobbying hard for the removal of bunkers as the demand for the same was felt in the recently concluded women-conference as well. “We had recommended this in our first report in October last year after which some bunkers were removed. We recently reminded the GoI that much needs to be done on this front. I am really delighted to hear the news,” she said. She said the panel has advocated removal of bunkers from all residential areas of Kashmir.