Unprecedented security for Modi rally; Srinagar sees restrictions
The heightened militant violence on Monday cast a shadow on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally here with security forces restricting movement of people and vehicles in large parts of the city.india Updated: Dec 11, 2014 07:27 IST
The heightened militant violence on Monday cast a shadow on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally here with security forces restricting movement of people and vehicles in large parts of the city.
Additional 4,000 troops were called in to man the Civil Lines area of the city to seal the entry points to the Sher-I-Kashmir cricket stadium, the venue of the prime minister's rally.
The security measures, compared to the previous visits of the Prime Minister, remain unprecedented in the face of increased violence in the past one week, which left 21 dead in multiple attacks across the valley.
All main stretches in the commercial hub Lal Chowk have been blocked with concertina wires and bullet-proof vehicles. The security forces were accused by employees of the essential services of not allowing free movement of vehicles to reach their hospitals and offices.
Residents living in old parts of the city, known for stone-throwing and separatists protests, alleged that they are not allowed to move freely. "Since the morning, there is heavy deployment in Nowhatta and Gojawra. Batons are swung at people to chase them away," said Junaid Ahmad, a resident of the downtown area.
"While going to Doordarshan, I was stopped at more than 15 places. I was asked to walk from Dal Gate to the office. I have not faced such security ever," said Rayes Mohiuddin, a known television anchor who hosts a morning show.
Most roads in the city were deserted and give a look of a ghost town. The restrictions were imposed despite an assurance of director general of police K Rajendra to people that there will be no restrictions on their movement.
Besides restrictions in Srinagar, there are reports of shutdown in north and south Kashmir. Separatist groups, which include hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani and JKLF chief Yasin Malik, have called for shutdown against the PM's visit. Most separatist leaders remain behind the bars.
United Jehad Council chairman Syed Salahuddin has also supported the separatists' call.
The unprecedented security measures have evoked sharp response from the civil society. "To make Modi's rally a success, natives have been imprisoned," wrote known columnist Abdul Majeed Zargar on Facebook.
The BJP expects that Prime Minister's rally in Srinagar will boost the party's prospects in the ongoing assembly polls in jammu and Kashmir, where the saffron party is contesting from most seats to form a majority government in the Muslim-majority state.