Gun-wielding commandoes of the Special Security Group (SSG) mount down from the police vehicle. They are followed by four personnel of the Anti-Sabotage Team (AST),mine metal detectors in hand. Sniffer dogs are put to work to detect explosives. Then a message on the wireless set of a policeman alerts everyone. Man of the moment,Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister,Omar Abdullah,will be here any minute.
Nearly fifteen minutes later,when the entire area has been sanitised,the Chief Minister finally arrives at the construction site of the divisional commissioners office at Panama Chowk. Labourers,most of whom have come from other states,are puzzled.
As has been his favourite pastime recently,the Chief Minister inspects the site carefully,asking questions and telling the officials to expedite the construction. After all,work on the divisional commissioners office has been going on for the last one year; the state Government had already delayed the shifting of the office from the Mubarak Mandi complex,which has been declared unsafe.
It has been a day following what Omar Abdullah does during his surprise checks. After his inspection rounds in Kashmir,he was on a veritable spree in Jammu on his second day here on Wednesday. And it looks like his surprise visits are having the desired effect,especially after Omar initiated action against the superintendent and his deputy at Srinagars Lal Ded hospital for neglecting their duties.
Omars visit has already provided a fillip to the office project here in Jammu. We have preponed the deadline by which we will be completing the work on the construction of the divisional commissioners office. Already we have spent nearly Rs 5 crore on the project. The project was to be completed by the end of this year,but we have assured the CM that the job will be done in only six months, says Harbans Singh,deputy general manager of the Jammu and Kashmir Project Construction Corporation (JKPCC).
The Chief Minister had already had a busy day,starting off on his rounds early in the morning. He managed to visit the construction site of a migrant camp at Jagti near Nagrota,the building of the Public Service Commission at Reshamnagar colony,the Sitli water filtration plant and the Government Medical College (GMC).
Officials at the Jagti camp assured Omar that the allotment of the migrant quarters would begin from October this year. Around half the 4,128 quarters would also be completed in October.
Inspecting the ongoing beautification project of Tawi embankment,the Chief Minister directed officials to set up a joggers park and told them that it should have all the facilities needed by morning walkers.
On his visit to the Sitli water filtration plant,Omar issued on-the-spot instructions to the Public Health Engineering (PHE) officials to repair the damage caused to it due to the floods earlier.
Now,having had a good look at the office construction site,he is set to visit the Mubarak Mandi complex. The SSG commandoes and police personnel rush off to await his arrival there and traffic cops finally allow passersby to continue on their way.
But even Omar has his limits. He decides to head home instead of going to the Mubarak Mandi complex,the seat of power of the Dogra rulers. He says he will visit the complex later. When,of course,he did not say.