The Jammu & Kashmir government has asked police to minimise the visible “security imprints” in Srinagar city in the wake of a fall in tourist numbers in the Valley over the last few years. The government has directed the police to remove “unnecessary” concertina wire on roads and around security establishments and asked security forces to “beautify” bunkers.
“We have been told to reduce security imprints in Srinagar,” a police officer told The Indian Express. “This is being done to give a sense of peace as the tourism season is about to begin.”
The Srinagar police chief has written to all officers to identify places where concertina wire or barbed wire is lying unnecessarily. “Since we need to remove all unnecessary material including concertina wire lying at various places in Srinagar city, all zonal SPs will identify the places where such unnecessary material is lying,” reads a communiqué from the city police chief to his officers. “…report should be furnished to this office within a day”.
The police officer said, “We have been also told to beautify bunkers around Srinagar city. The focus is on removing sandbag bunkers and replacing them with concrete or wood panelled bunkers.”
The directive has been issued days before around 500 delegates arrive in the Valley on March 27 for a four-day tourism conference. The Travel Agents Association of India is organising the Indian Travel Congress — 64th Convention and Exhibition.
Tourist arrival in the Valley has reduced drastically in the past few years. The tourist season of 2015 was hit by the floods of 2014. In 2016, tourists initially started travelling to the Valley, but Kashmir witnessed a total shutdown and curfew for five months after the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani. In 2017, a series of violent incidents hit tourism in the area.
This is not the first time such a directive has been sent to security agencies. The reduction of security signatures and beautification of bunkers first took place during the first stint of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed as chief minister. A large number of bunkers, especially those on the airport road, were renovated.