Army increases footprint in south Kashmir

Army increases footprint in south Kashmir
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Army soldier deployed at MA Road, Srinagar, on Sep 15 | Photo: Faisal Khan
Army soldier deployed at MA Road, Srinagar, on Sep 15 | Photo: Faisal Khan

Awantipora: The army has slowly begun to be conspicuous in south Kashmir areas, where the raging anti-India uprising is the strongest and where the writ of the protesting masses appears to be ruling currently.
However, even as the number of protest rallies drastically came down due to Eid-ul-Azha, the defiance and indifference to “normalcy” is palpable in every nook and corner.
Before the crack of dawn, the army positions its armoured Cassipir vehicles at vantage positions on Srinagar-Jammu highway and heavily-armed soldiers stand guard at various places. The soldiers augment an already existing deployment of police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers.
Reports suggest that the army, which had been reluctant in controlling the unabated anti-India protests and freedom rallies, is coming out of its formations. During the past three days, the army patrolled in several towns in south Kashmir including Pampore and Tral.
“We saw a large contingent of Rashtiya Rifles troops emerging from their camp on Thursday. They walked through the town square and took a detour through orchards back to their camp formation. They did not confront anyone walking on the otherwise deserted roads but their patrol was a message in itself,” said a Tral resident who requested anonymity.
He said during past more than two months, since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen militant Burhan Wani, it was for the first time that the troopers are visible on the roads and not merely restricted to their armoured vehicles.
People attribute the change in army’s behaviour to the go-ahead given to them by the state administration to intervene in the raging uprising.
Last week the Indian army chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag arrived here on a daylong tour and following assessment of the situation along the Line of Control (LoC) and the hinterland told Governor NN Vohra that the army would be available to assist the police and paramilitaries in south Kashmir.
However, the army’s calculated activism has not made any impact on the common people.
“The army has been pulled out on streets to realize Indian home minister Rajnath Singh’s deadline on restoration of normalcy in a week’s time,” said Nazir Ahmad, a former teacher in Tral.
“The deadline is about to expire but there is no improvement in sight. It seems frightening people into submission is not working,” he said.

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