Omar, Mehbooba resent using community halls as security barracks
Srinagar: NC vice-president Omar Abdullah on Saturday said the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir had “regressed” to such an extent that community halls built during his tenure as chief minister of the erstwhile state were being used as barracks for security forces.
“My Government built community/marriage halls & demolished bunkers in Srinagar. It’s disappointing to see the security situation in the city has now regressed so far that new bunkers are being constructed & the marriage halls are being used as barracks for security forces,” he wrote on Twitter.
His remarks came after reports of a few community halls or marriage halls being taken over by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) here. The security forces’ presence has been strengthened in Srinagar following a recent spike in militant attacks.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti also lashed out at the government over the move, and said every day more “draconian” laws are brought in with the sole purpose of “suffocating” people into silence.
“After placing security bunkers at every nook & corner of Srinagar, CRPF personnel have been pushed into marriage halls which is the only private space left for people here. Every day more draconian laws are brought in with the sole purpose of suffocating people into silence,” she tweeted.
Meanwhile, Srinagar Mayor Junaid Azim Mattu raised the issue with the divisional administration for exploring alternative options for housing the security personnel.
He said the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) was not consulted on the issue.
“Have spoken to Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pole Sb regarding the issue of SMC Community Halls being made available to the CRPF…SMC wasn’t consulted on this decision,” he tweeted.
Mattu noted that community halls are integral to social and community functions, and are constructed in areas where people do not have huge houses and lawns.
“They, hence, are a community necessity. A lot of money has been spent on their construction, upkeep and maintenance,” he said.
The mayor said the Kashmir divisional commissioner has assured him that “alternative options will be explored”.
“I have strongly urged for this. It is very important that community facilitation services are not hampered. It would be a huge inconvenience to people and also stigmatise law and order measures,” he said.
Mattu maintained that CRPF personnel deployed in Srinagar should have decent and appropriate housing facilities, but community halls should be left for community services.
“This is not a political issue – and should not be distorted as such,” he added.
Public Relation Officer (PRO), CRPF, Abhiram Pankaj said additional troops from within Kashmir Valley were deployed in the city in view of the requirement.
“Rationalisation has happened. These troops have come from north and south Kashmir,” he said.
Asked why the troopers were housed in community halls, the official said the places for accommodating the forces were chosen by the civil administration.
“The CRPF is getting deployed at the behest of the civil administration. They put us into a place of their choosing,” he added.