Sources said after the peaceful conduct of Assembly polls in 2014, believed to be first such in the past 25 years of armed conflict in Kashmir.
When the world’s most powerful man is in the country, security agencies have to be on tenterhooks even 1000 kms away from New Delhi.
For summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, US President Barrack Obama’s visit is the time which prompts even the top police brass to spend the day out doing roadside frisking and related tasks.
Though in run up to January 26, security is annually beefed up in the summer capital, in the wake of US President’s visit as Chief Guest for the R-Day celebrations in New Delhi, the seemingly never before security paraphernalia spanned even to this City in the Himalayan region. On January 15, Lt Gen K H Singh, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 16 Corps had cautioned of attacks in the state ahead of Obama’s visit to India throwing the security apparatus on high alert.
Highly placed sources said this time not only the security arrangements were the priority, but the authorities wanted peace through efforts that people face minimal inconvenience due to roadside frisking or related measures.
Taking no chances senior police officials were out on the roads: in a bid to maintain balance between the intensified security and least inconvenience to the people.
Sources said after the peaceful conduct of Assembly polls in 2014, believed to be first such in the past 25 years of armed conflict in Kashmir, police wanted the summer capital to be “naturally calm” ahead of January 26 when otherwise people would often complain of harassment in the name of security arrangements.
Bakshi Stadium, the main venue for the R-day function and its neighborhood in south City civil lines, have been central to the security bandobast. While days ahead of the main event, the locality at a stone’s throw from the Shergarhi Police Station is sanitized, sharpshooters and other commandoes take control over all high-rise and other buildings.
However unlike the previous years, when a week ahead of the event the road running outside the stadium would be sealed for public movement, it was open Sunday even on the eve. “With the passage of time strategies have to change. Preventive measures shouldn’t irk people. It’s a change with changing times,” said a senior official.
A shopkeeper at nearby Maharaja Bazar catering some customers at sundown endorsed the views. “Security arrangements are there but that fear has perceptibly gone down,” he said adding “Otherwise on this day, in the past by noon, undeclared curfew would be clamped in the entire locality as security forces would literally unleash a reign of terror.”
Outside the stadium the City police chief was personally busy with frisking and search operations. What seemed to be more of a practical training for the "Naka cops", Senior Superintendent of Police Amit Kumar looked humble before people. “Sorry for the inconvenience but this is for security reasons,” Kumar could be heard replying to a driver, who said he was irked by frisking at police barricades erected across the City.
A security analyst equated the security arrangements in Srinagar with the New Delhi hospitality for Obama. “For country where Prime Minister Narendra Modi dumped protocol for historic hospitality for the visiting dignitary, arrangements for Obama’s visit had to be out of box even with regard to security preparedness in Srinagar,” said a retired official.
Buoyed over the conduction of peaceful polls, the Inspector General of Police Kashmir AG Mir, seems to be aspiring to uphold his “peace efforts”. “We can’t compromise on security but at the same time we ensure that common man doesn’t face any harassment because of it,” the IGP said in reply to a question on presence of senior police officials at security barricades on R-Day eve, the day which coincided with US President’s visit making the impact felt from New Delhi to Srinagar!