The recent strikes followed by the swelling security footfall have once again made Srinagar a bunkered city where the strife clashes have returned to dominate the news.
The quick-fire strike in Srinagar’s heartland on November 24 once again catalyzed the capital shift. Those covering ‘security beat’ in the strife zone from the last three decades of raging discord call the current events as the reminiscent of Kashmir’s explosive past. There’re growing, albeit unassuming, markers of this sensitive swing.
The contested shootout came days after the controversial clash at Hyderpora. The fall of the alleged sparkplug behind the non-local killings in Kashmir, however, has left behind a pattern — driving a new political discourse in the region as raised by Fairview and Co.
The city is witnessing bustling roadside “encounters” ever since pandit pharmacist and non-local killings made headlines in Srinagar. Following the fatal attacks, triggering a panic drive of non-locals from the valley, the strife story has become as misty as the twilight firefight itself.
Be it Rambagh, Natipora or Hyderpora, the southern stretch of the city—where a top insurgent was gunned down along with his Barzulla-born associate early this year—is literally becoming a death trap for dissidents.
But beyond the barking pattern, the city termed “militant-free” by a top cop last year is getting reduced to its bunkered past. Apart from the resurgence of pickets and “panopticons”, the troop buildup has literally made Srinagar a security fortress.
Those part of statecraft, as well as spycraft, call this amplified apparatus as the only “workable solution” due to the “influx of unassuming triggers” in the capital.
“These security measures are there for a reason,” a mid-rank sleuth argues. “We can’t let Kashmir capital become a free-roaming heartland for militants and their associates.”
Most of these moves and measures are making the security beat an intriguing story despite the absence of the other side merely available in press-statements or pressers.
Currently, when the magisterial probe and SIT are doing “fact-finding” on Hyderpora, the common refrain in Srinagar remains that the “security establishment” has already left “nothing unsaid” about the controversial operation.
And as these ‘security’ stories are becoming regular conflict chronicles now, Raj Bhawan has set the two-year deadline for militancy in Kashmir.
But militancy, as former chief minister Omar Abdullah said when the outcry over Hyderpora almost revived the politics of posturing in Kashmir, is not a new phenomenon or problem in the valley. Abdullah talked about the time when his government “took the people along and bulldoze bunkers” from Srinagar. The present problem, as the beleaguered political class sees it, lies in the politics — pushing people to the wall.
That’s why the former head of unified command batted for pro-people measures than the security beef-ups in the capital. Even Mayor Junaid Matto, the first citizen of Srinagar by the oath of his office, sounds disgruntled about the “security solution”.
Political anguish apart, the heightened security situation in the city is making many denizens distressed about the “growing siege mentality”. Driven by the hard-power, the establishment, however, is clearly overwriting all the confidence-building measures of the past.
Somewhere down the line, security observers believe, the motive remains to achieve the desired results in any case.
“Naya Kashmir is all about new realities and targets,” says a deserter of a top political party of Kashmir.
“That’s why the vocal pro-India nationalists like Farooq Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti now come across as the annoying antagonists.” The dissenter cum a decorated politician in town even talks about the result-oriented performances to achieve the “normalization” project.
But as the security smokescreen is growing in the season of melancholia, the state is ostensibly following the script based on numbers.
In the backdrop of the recent killings, Inspector General of Police Kashmir Vijay Kumar said that 144 militants were killed in “encounters” this year so far, compared to 207 militants in 2020.
These annual strife statistics apart, the unfolding events in the capital are once again making Security Beat of Srinagar Dateline both hectic as well as hazy.