Peace Signals In Restive Kashmir Valley

Peace Signals In Restive Kashmir Valley

2 December 2011
DNA
Ishfaq-ul-Hassan

Srinagar: Winds of peace have started blowing in the restive Kashmir valley as CRPF has vacated three security camps, including one housed in now defunct Firdous Cinema, and shifted one battalion-size of troops from the stone-pelting hub of Srinagar. “We have vacated Firdous Cinema housing battalion number 162 of the CRPF. Two more camps located in Nowpora and Miskeen Bagh have also been vacated,” said said Mohsin Shahidi, spokesman of the CRPF in Kashmir, adding that the battalion has been shifted from Srinagar to Kupwara. “We have handed over these buildings to Jammu and Kashmir police.” Firdous Cinema was one of the oldest camps set up by the BSF to fight militancy in the sensitive old city at the onset of militancy in early nineties. Later the BSF vacated the camp and handed over the baton to the CRPF which has been doing the dual job of maintaining law and order and fighting militancy alongside the Jammu and Kashmir Police. All the three camps were vacated from those areas which have been the epicentre of stone pelting during the unrest last year.The 2010 agitation was born in the old city after a teenager, Tufail Ahmad Matoo, was killed by a tear smoke shell fired by police in Rajouri Kadal on June 11. The five-month agitation that followed claimed 120 lives. Most of the deaths happened after the security forces allegedly fired on the stone-pelting mobs across the Valley. Around 1,351 CRPF men and 2660 police personnel suffered injuries between June 11 and September 30 last year The withdrawal of the CRPF from the old city is a part of the process initiated by the Omar Abdullah-led government to reduce the footprints of the security forces with the improvement in the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. More than 40 bunkers of the CRPF were removed from Srinagar after the situation showed signs of improvement in the last one year. “We have been working quietly towards reducing the footprints of the security forces with the improvement in the situation,” chief minister Omar Abdullah told DNA. Omar said they have deliberately lie low and not publicised the issue because some people try to make controversy out of it. “When we talk of this issue, some people start trying to create a controversy. We are trying for the greater sense of normalcy (in the state)”, he said. The CM said more steps would be taken with the return of normalcy. “It is an ongoing process. More steps will be taken with the return of peace and normalcy.”


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