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Year after Uri attack: Charred barracks, chain-linked fences

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, people carried ration on foot to the upper reaches, hiking several kilometres, and children trekked to schools as the road outside the attack site, passing through the Brigade headquarters, remained shut for months.

Written by Naveed Iqbal | Uri |
Updated: September 19, 2017 9:22:44 am
uri attack, one year of uri attack, surgical strikes, uri aftermath, pakistani militants, indian army, kashmir, india news Uri terror attack anniversary: 19 soldiers were killed in the attack (File Photo)

The barracks remain charred, and a chain-linked fence separates the road from the surrounding land. The movement of civilian vehicles is strictly monitored, and completely barred at night. One year after 19 soldiers were killed in an early morning attack by Pakistani terrorists at the 12 Infantry Brigade headquarters in Uri, local residents say their lives have changed, with strict security measures in place.

The roads branching off the main road that passes through the Brigade headquarters to villages in the upper reaches of the tehsil can no longer be used by residents after dusk, and the lawns that hold an Army golf course is separated by a fence. At the end of the course, lie the barracks that were the scene of the attack on September 18 last year.

“The Army holds control over the main road leading to the villages closer to the border and that is shut down at 6 pm,” says Dr Sagar D, Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Uri tehsil. The Army declined to respond to a request from The Indian Express seeking comment.

Also read | Year after surgical strikes: Surge in death count of both soldiers, militants

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For nearly six months after the attack, local residents say, the Uri-Santra-Mike road connecting the town to 25 villages that lie beyond was closed and entry restricted. “We had to send a legal notice to the Army to open the road because the lives of people in these areas were severely affected and we had to do something about it,” says Sagar.

According to the SDM, as restrictions increased, the civil administration began negotiations with the Army, so that the lives and livelihood of civilians are not affected. The Army shuts its gates at 6 pm, allowing residents to pass through to villages beyond the cantonment until 8 pm after frisking and identity checks. The gates are opened again at 6 am.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, people carried ration on foot to the upper reaches, hiking several kilometres, and children trekked to schools as the road outside the attack site, passing through the Brigade headquarters, remained shut for months.

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According to the SDM, around 30,000 people in these villages are affected by the increased security measures. “We are pursuing the grievances of the locals as well as security concerns with the Army. They have considered many of them, but the matter of closing the highway still remains on the table,” he says.

Local residents say that cases of medical emergencies are let through even after the daily deadline. However, they say, those reaching the town late have to spend the night in Uri before moving on to their villages.

A student in Srinagar, who visits his home in Uri during the weekends, says, “I will not be allowed beyond the first Army gate if I reach after the deadline. If I finish class by 5 pm, and try and reach home travelling 100 km, I still have to stay with relatives in Uri town overnight before I can make it.”

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Those who work outside town are the most affected as public transport is timed around the Army’s deadline. Residents say details of all civilian vehicles, and their drivers, have to be recorded in the Army register before they cross the gates every time. Before the attack, they say, only one entry was necessary per day.

Then there’s the constant fear of war. “The paranoia of war breaking out was such that people spoke in terms of shelling beginning within the hour, not the next day or week. Some of us had begun to pack our things in case we would need to evacuate,” says an Uri resident, who lives four km from the cantonment.

J&K Police, meanwhile, have increased their public outreach in the area. “Around 12 militants have been killed in the Uri and Rampur sectors in the last one year. The security and restrictions have increased but along with that, we are increasing confidence-building measures in the area for better coordination with civilians,” says Javed, Sub-Divisional Police Officer, Uri.

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First published on: 19-09-2017 at 05:23:43 am
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