Reminiscence of 90s as armed forces cordon city center, check phones, personal belongings

Cartoon: Anis Wani.

Increased frisking, cordons due to August 15, rest all is speculation, says Police

Srinagar: Sudden Search Operations in the heart of Srinagar city and its vital commercial hubs has induced a sense of fear among the civilians. While the police refer to it as a “regular precautionary exercise”, the locals earlier related it to the recent Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel’s killing in Batmaloo.

Locals told Free Press Kashmir that they fear that “they might be dragged out of their homes like they used to be in the 1990s insurgency era.”

However, the police says that cordons and frisking have been increased due to August 15, the Independence Day of India.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP) in collaboration with CRPF launched a CASO in the commercial hub of Srinagar, Lal Chowk on July 27. Today, it was launched in Balgarden, Batamaloo area.

Moreover, presence of armed forces has been drastically increased in all public places of the city prior to the August 15 event.

Frisking of locals including riders and drivers has paced up not only in the rural areas but also the city which has created a sense of panic among the masses. Images of the armed forces checking peoples’ phones and personal belongings have gone viral on social media.

“This is a message that no one is safe in Kashmir. It used to happen in villages. Now, they are telling us that if they can do it in the city, they can do it anywhere: in our offices, public places or bedrooms,” said a local, on condition of anonymity, adding, “I have nothing to do with any political party, terror outfit or anything of that kind. But, I am scared to receive any news about anything in Kashmir on my phone. I feel scared to keep my laptop in my room.”

Asked why he fears if he is not indulged in anything questionable, he said, “It’s not about what they find there. If they decide to kill me, they can. They do beat people unnecessarily. No woman is safe around them. Given their track record with Kashmiris, why won’t I fear?”

This time, the CASOs are more sudden and surprising in nature. However, the police officials say that they are just following routine.

“Your memory is weak. It happened like this last year as well. We have many days till August 15. It’s all speculative. We do it where we sense something. There is nothing planned about it,” says SSP Srinagar, Imtiyaz Ismail Parray.

He also told Free Press Kashmir that the CASOs have “not really” been launched because of the recent CRPF killing.

He also said that people mistake the presence of CRPF with that of Army here. “It is JKP assisted by CRPF. The army doesn’t come to the city. The vehicle colour doesn’t define who is sitting inside. The Casper type vehicle CRPF has been allotted is similar to what the Army uses,” he added.

“Frisking is going on because of the attacks,” a police source told FPK.

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