After a row over use of marriage halls and community centres as security barracks in Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar, the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force or CRPF has started vacating them and shifting its personnel to other accommodation.
Some 5,000 more troops were recently brought to Srinagar after a rise in terrorist attacks. But due to lack of any designated accommodation for more personnel, the administration had kept them in community centres and marriage halls, leading to a public outcry and political controversy.
The fresh induction is the first troop build-up in Kashmir valley after a massive security mobilisation in 2019 when over 700 additional companies or 70,000 troops were brought before the special status to Jammu and Kashmir was scrapped and the state was divided into two Union Territories.
Officials said the CRPF troops have moved out of a two-storey wedding hall in downtown Srinagar to another location.
The government is facing a space crunch to accommodate additional security forces since 2019. Besides constructing new camps, hundreds of government and private buildings are being used as security camps.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah on Friday said the fresh troop induction shows how the situation in Kashmir valley has regressed to such an extent that community halls built during his tenure were being used as barracks for security forces.
“My government built community/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,” Mr Abdullah tweeted.
Before fresh inductions, Srinagar city alone had 26 battalions of CRPF or 26,000 troops, besides deployment of Border Security Force, SSB and the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
The fresh induction was done ahead of Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Srinagar last month. He reported questioned security agencies for their failure to prevent targeted attacks on migrant workers.
A number of security bunkers have also come up at various parts of Srinagar.