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‘Suffocating people’: Omar, Mehbooba condemn taking over of marriage halls by armed forces

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Vehicles of armed forces parked near military operation site in Kashmir. [FPK File Photo/Zainab]

Srinagar: National Conference (NC) Vice President Omar Abdullah on Saturday said the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir had “regressed” to such an extent that community halls built during his tenure as chief minister of the erstwhile state were being used as barracks for the armed forces.

“My Government built community and marriage halls and demolished bunkers in Srinagar. It’s disappointing to see the security situation in the city has now regressed so far that new bunkers are being constructed and the marriage halls are being used as barracks for security forces,” he tweeted.

His remarks came after reports of a few community halls or marriage halls being taken over by the CRPF here.

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) President Mehbooba Mufti also lashed out at the government over the move and said every day more “draconian” laws were brought in with the sole purpose of “suffocating” people into silence.

“After placing security bunkers at every nook and corner of Srinagar, CRPF personnel have been pushed into marriage halls which is the only private space left for people here. Every day more draconian laws are brought in with the sole purpose of suffocating people into silence,” she tweeted.

Meanwhile, Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) Mayor Junaid Mattu raised the issue with the divisional administration for exploring alternative options for housing the security personnel.

He said the SMC was not consulted on the issue.

“I have spoken to Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pole regarding the issue of SMC community halls being made available to the CRPF. SMC wasn’t consulted on this decision,” he tweeted.

Mattu noted that the community halls were integral to social and community functions, and were constructed in areas where people do not have huge houses and lawns.

“They, hence, are a community necessity. A lot of money has been spent on their construction, upkeep, and maintenance,” he said.

The mayor said the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir had assured him that “alternative options will be explored”.

“I have strongly urged for this. Community facilitation services mustn’t be hampered. It would be a huge inconvenience to people and also stigmatise law and order measures,” he said.

Mattu said that CRPF personnel deployed in Srinagar should have decent and appropriate housing facilities, but community halls should be left for community services.

Public Relation Officer (PRO), CRPF, Abhiram Pankaj said additional troops from within Kashmir were deployed in the city given the requirement.

“Rationalisation has happened. These troops have come from north and south Kashmir,” he said.

On why the troops were housed in community halls, the official said the places for accommodating the forces were chosen by the civil administration.

“The CRPF is getting deployed at the behest of the civil administration. They put us into a place of their choosing,” he said.

 

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