Srinagar Turns Fortress For PM's Visit Today

6 November 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Majid Jahangir and RK Kichlu

Srinagar: A three-tier security has been put in place in Srinagar to secure the Sher-e-Kashmir Stadium, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address a public rally tomorrow. Over 5,000 police and CRPF personnel have been deployed in the city to keep militants and separatists at bay. Of this, 1,800 security men have been deployed at the stadium alone, turning it into a fortress. In the backdrop of a grenade attack, less than 3 km from the rally venue on Thursday evening, which left 11 CRPF men injured, the security around the venue has been beefed up further. The main roads leading to the stadium have been barricaded. No private vehicles are being allowed towards the stadium. The attack, analysts said, might have been aimed at discouraging people from attending the PM's rally. While senior police officers are overlooking the arrangements for the rally, the Special Protection Group has taken over the venue. The podium where the PM will address the rally is placed in the centre of the ground. A large billboard at the podium with Modi hugging Mufti Mohammad Sayeed carries a message 'warm welcome Shri Narendra Modi'. Many hoardings welcoming the PM have been put up around the stadium. 'Almost all arrangements are in place and the venue has been completely sanitised. Teams from various wings of the police, including a bomb disposal squad, are available at the venue,' said a police officer. 'No unauthorised person is allowed entry to the high-security venue. Even the vehicles of ministers are checked near the venue,' he added. To regulate the entry of the public which is expected to turn in large numbers, the government has put up barricades on the road leading to the venue. The entry of people to the stadium will close after 11 am as the PM is scheduled to arrive at the venue at 11.30 am. CCTV cameras have been installed to keep an eye on the movement of people around the rally venue. All buildings around the venue have been occupied by security men to keep a watch not only on militants, but also to prevent people from taking out a parallel rally called by separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani. Nearly 400 people, including separatists, have been detained already to ensure a peaceful rally of Modi. Large contingents of the police and the CRPF have put up barricades across the city. All vehicles, mostly light-motor vehicles, were being stopped for checking in various localities. The security forces have also set up check points in all parts of the city. Vehicles entering the city from various parts of the Valley are being searched at the entry points. The authorities have suspended the Baramulla-Banihal rail service for today and tomorrow. Though there are no inputs of any militant attack, the security forces are not taking any chance. In 2013, a day ahead of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's two-day visit, militants had carried out a deadly attack in Srinagar that left eight soldiers dead and two dozen of them injured. In 2002, during the visit of then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, senior separatist leader Abdul Gani Lone was assassinated in the old city. Meanwhile, restrictions were imposed in old Srinagar city and the volatile Maisuma locality to foil the proposed 'solidarity march' by separatist groups. City streets gave an almost deserted look in some parts of Srinagar city.