Kashmir is on the edge for security reasons on Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to the valley as Prime Minister and that, too, close to the Line of Control (LoC). Heightened security’s focus is to thwart any 2013-like militant attack ahead of the then prime minister Manmohan Singh’s visit.
More than 2,300 police and paramilitary personnel were deployed from Srinagar to north Kashmir’s border town of Uri where the Prime Minister is scheduled to inaugurate 240MW Uri-II power project on Friday.
The area is close to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
The security agencies fear a spectacle attack from militants like the June 2013 incident when eight armymen were killed on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway near Hyderpora by suicide attackers on the eve of former PM’s visit to the valley.
The security agencies have increased vigil on south Kashmir where elusive Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operational commander Qasim, suspected to be behind the 2013 attack, is still on the run. Security agencies have killed close aides of Qasim in multiple encounters in the past two months.
The security forces arrested three people from the outskirts of Srinagar, who, in the past, provided shelter to Lashkar militants in the city’s Ahmad Nagar area. The arrests were made from the Buch Pora and Ahmad Nagar areas of Srinagar.
“They will be released soon after the Prime Minister leaves the state. They were involved in providing shelter and food to a LeT militant, Abu Hurrairah, who escaped during the Ahmed Nagar encounter, earlier this year,” said a top cop, part of the counter-insurgency apparatus, on the condition of anonymity.
Dozens of barriers have been set up in the city and on the national highway and random risking was carried out on Thursday.
Several suspects, with militant background, and their movements are being tracked both in south and north Kashmir to foil any attempt by militants to organise any attack.
Several separatists, who called for a shutdown on the PM’s visit, are likely to be placed under house arrest during the PM’s visit.
“A heavy contingent of police raided my residence and put under house detention. Dozens of policemen are guarding my residence,” said moderate Hurriyat leader Zaffer Akbar Bhat. “No one of the family is being allowed to come out,” he added.
The venue at Uri has already been sanitised by an eight-member team of the Special Protection Group (SPG) two days ahead of the Prime Minister arrival in the state.
Inspector General of Police Abdul Ghani Mir chaired a meeting at the border town Uri ahead of the PM’s visit. Strategic Chinar Corps Commander Lt Gen Subrata Saha on Wednesday too visited forward areas along the LoC in north Kashmir.
Militant groups have upped their ante against the PM’s visit, opposing the reported granting of citizenship to the West Pakistan refugees and settlement of Pandits in satellite colonies in the valley.
“No one will be allowed to fiddle with J-K’s identity and to give it a communal colour. We will not allow settlement of 1947 refugees and also the settlement of pundits on Israeli-style,” warned United Jehad Council supremo and Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahudin.