Their absence may take a while to get used to.
After 18 years, Roop Krishan Kaul and Jehangeer Ahmad will no longer see guns poking out and casting shadows from behind barbed wires near their homes.
Magarmal Bagh, the area the two live in, was one of the three locations in Srinagar where security forces removed their bunkers on Tuesday as part of the state government’s strategy for peace in the troubled valley.
Sixteen bunkers were identified for removal at the meeting of the unified command in Srinagar on September 29, chaired by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
“The personnel manning the bunkers will be readjusted at other places,” said CRPF spokesman Parabhakar Tripathi.
Besides Magarmal Bagh, bunkers at the Bone and Joint Hospital, Barzulla and Dental College, Karan Nagar were also shifted on Tuesday.
“Rest of the bunkers will be relocated in the next few days,” said Tripathi.
Kaul, a businessman, plans to put his land and warehouse occupied by the CRPF to use again. “Three rooms of my warehouse are back with me now,” he said.
The removal of the bunkers follows the Centre’s eight-point Kashmir peace proposal announced by Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram. Schools in Kashmir were reopened on September 27 as part of that plan.
For some residents of Magarmal Bagh, the peace dividends are immediate.
Jehangeer, a salesman working in a medical store opposite the bunker, is relieved. “If anyone hurled stones at the bunker prompting security forces to fire, I would have become the first victim,” he said.
The bunker, which occupied the footpath, with its concertina wires bursting on the busy road, was targeted several times in the last three months by stone-throwing protesters.
Many Srinagar residents see the shifting of bunkers as a good beginning.
“Iron barricades and razor-edged wires near the Sazgaripora bunker (which will be removed in a few days) made driving a nightmare,” said Bashraat Ahmad, a shopkeeper.
There are hundreds of CRPF bunkers in Srinagar, Budgam and Ganderbal districts, many in residential areas.