Srinagar: Amid rising anxiety and uncertainty fuelled by additional troop deployment in the Kashmir Valley, the state police has withdrawn security from a number of shrines, mosques and even some courts.
On Thursday afternoon, the security personnel deployed across these places were ordered to report to the police lines of their respective districts immediately, top police sources told News18.
“There are security personnel posted in the courts who were without weapons. There is input about weapon-snatching. So, either we will have to give them weapons or strengthen their numbers,” Additional Director General of Police Munir Khan told News18.
Sources said the security withdrawal has been mostly done in parts of the restive south Kashmir.
When asked if the entire security deployment at some shrines had been withdrawn, Khan said, “Let me check.”
The official maintained that no security has been removed from any place, adding that the security personnel have been only asked to report to their police lines.
“In a law and order situation, the small security pickets often become the target. This is being done in that context,” a top police official told News18 on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, sources said that an additional 25,000 troops have been called in to the Valley even as the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) denied such reports. The development comes a week after 10,000 troops (comprising 100 companies each) were deployed.
The deployment has given rise to apprehension about the abrogation of the contentious Article 35A.
Official sources said more than 280 companies of security forces, mostly CRPF personnel, are being deployed in vulnerable spots in the city and other parts of the Valley.
All major entry and exit points of Srinagar have been taken over by the Central Armed Paramilitary Forces (CAPFs) with token presence of local police, sources added.
Residents have started panic-buying essentials as they are linking the deployment of forces to apprehension of deterioration in the law and order situation.
One of the major poll planks for the BJP was the scrapping of Articles 35A and 370 in the state. While the much-debated Article 35A gives “special status” to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir and also defines the “permanent residents” of the state, Article 370 limits the Parliament's power to make laws concerning the state.
The government on Monday had said that the deployment of 10,000 troops was a “deliberate and calculated response to the need of the security grid”.
“There was an addition or reduction in the security grid owing to our focus on Amarnath Yatra,” K Vijay Kumar, the governor’s advisor on security affairs, had said. “Therefore, the need arose for little more forces. It is a part of the plan which is in the pipeline.”
Kumar said there was “rumour-mongering” on social media in response to the orders issued by the government and added that it would not be proper for him to counter such speculation. Questioning the source of such rumours, he dismissed reports that troop movement in Kashmir was connected to any future announcements.
Even the Ministry of Home Affairs had attempted to quell speculation, stating that the troops would be deployed to strengthen the counter-insurgency grid and law and order duties in the Kashmir Valley.
(With inputs from PTI)