24 Bunkers Being Removed

24 Bunkers Being Removed

2 April 2012
Greater Kashmir
Shabir Ibn Yusuf

Srinagar: With the removal of one more Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) bunker Monday in old Srinagar, 24 more road side bunkers are being removed in near future from the city. The records available with police and security establishment maintain that there are around 1600 bunkers of army, police and paramilitary across the valley established during the last two decades to fight militancy. The removal of bunkers in Srinagar was part of the 8-point Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) announced by the Centre on September 25, 2010, after the massive unrest broke out in Kashmir. The CBMs were meant to provide relief and instill a sense of security and confidence in the people of the state. In Srinagar, according to police records, there are a total of 406 bunkers of security forces. About 39 were removed earlier in phased manner. Public Relations Officer CRPF, Sudhir Kumar, told Greater Kashmir that the bunker was removed from Chinkral Mohalla locality of Old City today. He said that in near future 24 more bunkers would be removed and the personnel stationed in these bunkers would be relocated, not withdrawn. “Consultation with the administration about the removal of 24 bunkers is going on and it will take some time. The state government has to arrange alternate accommodation for troopers stationed in these bunkers,” the PRO said. Kumar said that 52 CRPF battalions are operating in Kashmir valley. He said that in Srinagar only, 25 battalions of CRPF are present and they are working under the command of Inspector General (IG) administration CRPF based in Nishat area of Srinagar. “27 other battalions are working under IG operations CRPF based in Zewan area of Pulwama district,” the PRO said. However, people allege that the CRPF move did not include such bunkers in Srinagar city that remained the cause of conflict between residents and the paramilitary forces. They alleged that the bunker located in city hub Lal Chowk known as Paladium Cinema Bunker was not removed despite strike by traders in early 2010. The bunkers became a common sight in Kashmir in 1989 after armed struggle broke out. Making the valley look like a battlefield, these bunkers created an aura of fear. When the CRPF took over from Border Security Force (BSF), many sandbag bunkers were given a wooden makeover with hut-like facade. The CRPF termed the makeover as a “beautification drive” to make the security arrangements presentable before the tourists. However, within a year, cemented structures replaced many.