Srinagar on alert 'after intel warns of militant strike'

Authorities Sunday suspended mobile internet service across Srinagar district for at least two hours following “intelligence inputs” that militants may strike at security forces’ convoys along the Srinagar-Jammu highway, officials said.

A senior police officer confirmed to Greater Kashmir that there were “significant inputs” suggesting that militants may target security forces’ vehicles travelling on the highway in Srinagar between 7am to 8am.

“The suspension of internet (in Srinagar district) was a precautionary measure. We had put all our installations and security forces personnel deployed on ground on a high alert and they will continue to remain so until the general elections are over in Srinagar,” he said, wishing not to be named as he wasn’t authorised to speak to media.

The officer said the “input” suggested that militants may use a bike or a vehicle and target security forces on the PanthaChowk-Batwara-Tatoo Ground stretch in Srinagar.

“Extra security measures were put in place along this route to foil any attack by the militants,” he said.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, inspector general of Central Reserve Police Force (Srinagar sector) Ravideep Singh Sahi said there were inputs about militant movement in Srinagar in the morning.

“Since it was the convoy day on the national highway, we acted swiftly by sounding an alert across the district and increased our area domination drill as well,” he said.

Stringent restrictions were put in place along the national highway and nobody was allowed to move from PanthaChowk towards Nowgam or Batwara.

“Huge traffic snarls were witnessed at PanthaChowk crossing as security forces personnel were thoroughly checking the identity cards of commuters,” said Umar Rashid, a resident of Pampore. Several women were also stopped at the crossing for at least 15 minutes. They were seen pleading before the security forces to allow them to proceed as they had to admit an infant at the GB Pant children’s hospital at Sonwar. They were later allowed to move ahead.

Locals from Nowgam area also complained that they had to walk miles by foot to reach Rambagh crossing.

“The highway closure has brought endless miseries for us,” said a resident of Nowgam. Barbed wire was placed on roads at Batamaloo also to ensure that no civilian vehicle crosses the point towards the highway stretch.

According to the state home department’s order, civilian traffic has been barred on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway and Srinagar-Baramulla highway twice a week—Sunday and Wednesday. The order will remain in vogue till May 31.

In southern Kashmir, the Srinagar-Jammu highway was thrown open at 4pm.  A witness said a few tourist vehicles were seen plying on the Awantipora-Lethpora stretch after magistrates issued them travel permits.  Several private clinics running on Sundays remained closed at most places falling along the highway.

“Patients couldn’t reach these clinics, particularly in Anantnag. The doctors also could not reach there, putting hundreds of patients to inconvenience,” local residents said.

Several students also couldn’t attend their IGNOU classes in Srinagar and elsewhere due to national highway closure.

IRFAN MALIK