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Amit Shah in Srinagar: Snipers, detentions, ‘ban’ on 2-wheelers

With October alone seeing 11 civilian deaths in targeted killings in the Valley -- most of them migrant workers -- a jittery security establishment has put in place a three-tier security set-up for the visit that will end on Monday.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah being received by LG of J&K Manoj Sinha on his arrival in Srinagar, Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021. (PTI)

Sharpshooters atop buildings, bullet-proof mobile bunkers across the city, policemen in civvies on sensitive locations, an unofficial ban on two-wheelers, and hundreds of detentions, including under the Public Safety Act (PSA) — Srinagar was put under a heavy security umbrella as Union Home Minister Amit Shah arrived on Saturday for his first visit to Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019.

With October alone seeing 11 civilian deaths in targeted killings in the Valley — most of them migrant workers — a jittery security establishment has put in place a three-tier security set-up for the visit that will end on Monday.

A senior officer said the security protocol, to thwart an attack during Shah’s visit, was the strictest in recent years.

The roads leading to the Raj Bhawan and Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre where Shah is expected to chair an event on Monday have been closed for civilian movement.

In the run-up to the visit, police detained around 900 people from different parts of Kashmir. Those detained include people identified as stone-pelters, relatives of militants and alleged “over ground workers” of militant groups. Many of them have been detained under the PSA, that allows the government to hold a person without trial for up to a year.

Police sources said that in the last week alone, around 50 people have been booked under the PSA. On Friday, the J&K government issued orders to shift 26 of the PSA detainees to the Agra jail in Uttar Pradesh.

Police have also imposed an unofficial ban on the plying of two-wheelers, especially in Srinagar city. Hundreds of two-wheelers have been impounded, despite riders producing all the necessary documents.

While J&K Police said in a tweet that the seizure of the two-wheelers was not linked to Shah’s visit, owners said police had asked them to collect their vehicles only after his trip ends on Monday. Police have blamed the spree of recent attacks on militants who arrived on two-wheelers, fired at the intended targets, and fled.

Some online delivery companies said their services had been hit as a result.

“J&K admin’s recent spree of seizing bikes in Kashmir is a collective punishment and another way to snatch whatever means Kashmiri youth have to earn their livelihood in a dignified manner,” tweeted PDP president Mehbooba Mufti.

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