Back to the ’90s: Barricades, bunkers return to Srinagar

Road barriers comprising metallic barricades — which officials call “speed barriers” — and sand bunkers have been set up at entry and exit points of Srinagar.

Written by Sofi Ahsan | Srinagar | Published:October 30, 2016 2:55 am
bunker175327dl1299-759 Securitymen at a bunker near Badami Bagh Cantt in Srinagar on Saturday. Express Photo by Shuaib Masoodi

In a development reminiscent of the turbulent 1990s, bunkers and barricades have returned to several areas of Srinagar after three months of protests, which have often turned violent. Officials said there are inputs of an increased movement of militants in the city.

Road barriers comprising metallic barricades — which officials call “speed barriers” — and sand bunkers have been set up at entry and exit points of Srinagar, and Gupkar area, which houses several politicians, including Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti and former CM Omar Abdullah.

Armed forces have been positioned in bunkers at Naseem Bagh, Nishat, Gupkar road and Pantha Chowk, which is the entry point of Srinagar for people travelling from south Kashmir.

Director General of Police, Law and Order, S P Vaid said the precautionary measures have been taken following reports of increased movement of militants in Srinagar. “These are essentially speed barriers meant to check the speed of vehicles. Overall, there is an increase in the movement of militants ,” Vaid said. He said orders have been given to set up prefabricated bunkers instead of the traditional ones made of sandbags. “The personnel posted there also needs protection,” he said.

In a written reply to the Assembly in June, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti had said that 84 security camps and bunkers had been removed from across the state since January 2009. The highest number of camps and bunkers were removed in 2010, and last year five such bunkers were removed following improvement in security situation.

But ever since protests began after Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani was killed in an encounter, more than 80 youths have gone missing, and security agencies fear they may have joined the militant ranks.