Massive security arrangements are in place in Kashmir Valley for the visit of Union home minister Amit Shah, with the government deploying extra security including BSF, and setting up new security bunkers in Srinagar.
Shah is likely to visit families of civilians killed recently. He will also inaugurate the first international flight from Srinagar Airport, to Sharjah, and chair a high-level review security meeting in Srinagar, before leaving for Jammu, where he will address people in a rally. It will be the first review meeting after the targeted killing of civilians in the Valley. During his visit, the home minister will also review various developmental projects under the Prime Minister’s package. He is likely to interact with Panchayati Raj representatives, including panchs, block development councilors and district development councilors.
The visit is taking place amid weather advisory, with the Valley witnessing heavy rainfall in the lower reaches and first snowfall in higher altitudes. The early snowfall in the middle of the apple harvesting season is proving devastating, causing huge losses to the horticulture industry across the Valley.
The visit of the Union home minister is his first to the Valley since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.
Ahead of the visit, police have seized thousands of two-wheelers across Srinagar and other districts. “Our operations continue to be disrupted as bikes of our delivery personnel keep getting seized in the city. Just when businesses in Kashmir were trying to recover from losses caused during the Article 370 clampdown, followed by the global pandemic, security forces are bringing us down again and again,” said Sami Ullah, co-founder of Fastbeetle, a delivery company based in J&K.
“More than 500 delivery executives are making their livelihoods from these jobs in Kashmir. Where will they go now?” he asked.
“I wonder how on the one hand, foreign investors are invited day in and day out to plan future businesses in Kashmir, while on the other hand, local start-ups are pulled down with these unnecessary steps,” he added.
J&K Journalists Association (JAKJA), a prominent body of J&K scribes, said journalists, particularly photo and video reporters, have suffered immensely due to the continued seizure of two-wheelers in Kashmir. “Many of them missed deadlines after their bikes were seized.” They appealed to the Governor for immediate intervention.
According to officials, around 50 more paramilitary companies have been deployed in Kashmir to prevent rising incidents of militancy in the Valley. Over the last two weeks, 11 civilians were killed by militants in Kashmir, including some migrant workers and those from minority communities.
IGP (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar said these steps were all related to the recent violence. “Seizing some bikes and shutting down the internet of some towers is purely related to #terror #violence. It has nothing to do with the visit of the HM,” reads his tweet.
Officials said the CRPF, along with police, have put in place an “aerial surveillance cover” for areas where minority community members live. They said they have placed Lal Chowk under aerial surveillance to prevent further attacks by militants on the eve of Union home minister Amit Shah’s visit to J&K on October 23.
The drones have been tested in the Pratap Park area of Srinagar.