The central and state security forces deployed in Kashmir have expressed the need to keep a tight vigil as they anticipate terror groups targeting civilians during the tourist season. The Central Reserve Police Force and the Jammu and Kashmir Police have taken measures to ensure the safety of tourists as the Valley opens up for the season.
A government official anonymously said, “Jaish-e-Mohammed militants have been targeting civilians. We have reason to believe that they will also likely target tourists because the idea is to portray to the world that nothing is normal in Kashmir though most services have been restored.” He went on to say that, all measures have been taken to ensure security especially since they expect the arrival of foreign tourists during the winter ski season.
While Srinagar and other sensitive areas such as Pulwama, Shopian, Sopore, Anantnag and Baramulla are under tighter surveillance, an official from the paramilitary force has said, that there will no additional troop deployment. On the question of having heavier control in certain parts of the Valley, he said, “we are wary of certain areas and are keeping a hawk’s eye on them and sanitising these areas regularly.”
The block development council elections scheduled for the coming Thursday in Kashmir is set to be the first move by the centre to restore normalcy of democratic process in the area since the abrogation. Leaders of the opposition who were under detention such as Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti have also been released. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has issued orders stating that all possible support be extended by officials to sarpanches as they prepare for elections in the region.
The Valley was under a 72-day security lockdown in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370 by the Central Government. The restrictions imposed have been lifted recently and the authorities have restored communications including private mobile phones. The move has added fear of possible terrorist violence amongst the security forces.