String of militant attacks in Srinagar is likely to cast a shadow on the upcoming bypolls. Director general of police (DGP) SP Vaid says the escalation in attacks is aimed at derailing the elections process as militant presence has increased in Srinagar.
“More attacks in Srinagar means that there is militant presence in the area. It seems the increased attacks are to cast a shadow on upcoming elections,’’ said Vaid.
This is the first time in may years security forces are worried about presence of militants in Srinagar, which was considered militancy free zone now. Police says there is no active militant from Srinagar, however Srinagar is not ‘out of bounds for militants in other areas’. The security establishment is also looking at increased presence of over ground workers in Srinagar.
“Although no Srinagar youth seems to be an active militant but militants from South Kashmir or other areas can always attack and go back,’’ said Vaid.
There has been an escalation in militant attacks as Kashmir is preparing for the polling for the bypolls for the two parliamentary constituencies of Srinagar and Anantnag is to be held on April 9 and 12.
Two security men lost their lives, while 20 others were injured in attacks since Sunday.
Srinagar constituency is going for polls as PDP MP Tariq Karra resigned over difference with his party after 2016 street protests in which at least 90 youth lost their lives. Anantnag constituency felt vacant after chief minister Mehbooba Mufti, who was an MP from the constituency, resigned last year after her election to the legislative assembly.
Seven CRPF personnel were injured and one jawan succumbed to injuries on Monday after suspected militants opened fire on a CRPF convoy in Sempora area on the outskirts of Srinagar bordering south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
CRPF officials said that the security men travelling in the convoy were coming for the upcoming election duties.
The attack third in two days comes less than 24 hours after a constable lost his life on Sunday evening. At least a dozen personnel from Jammu and Kashmir police and CRPF were injured in the attack.
Earlier, militants had attacked an army convoy in which three soldiers were injured.
While security officials are saying they are geared up to ‘face the challenge’, politicians are exercising caution.
Former chief minister and National Conference (NC) working president Omar Abdullah had also asked government to ensure security for all candidates during the run up to elections.
Parties are however hopeful that the attacks will not dampen the spirits of people.
“Its an attempt to derail the election process but is nothing new. It has been tried in the past but failed. It’s sad that innocent lives are lost and families destroyed in the process,” said PDP spokesperson and senior cabinet minister Nayeem Akhtar.
National Conference has however blamed the ruling alliance for ‘letting the situation deteriorate’. “The security scenario is a challenge for sure and its evident that the ruling alliance is invested in allowing it to deteriorate further. They don’t want high turnout, that is clear. We are reaching out to people and are satisfied with our efforts so far,’’ said NC spokesperson Junaid Mattoo.
Security establishment is however saying they are geared up to face the challenge.
“The escalation of militant activities was already expected, we had known that such a think will happen. We are always up to the challenge and will ensure that security for the elections is done as best as possible,’’ said S N Srivastava , special DG CRPF Kashmir Zone. He was speaking during the wreath laying ceremony for the CRPF jawan killed in Monday’s attack. A 10-year-old school girl was also injured during the attack.