G-20 Summit preparations in Kashmir prompt school closures and heightened Alert for mainstream Politicians and Minorities
Schools at “vulnerable” points have been closed and members of minorities, migrant workers and mainstream politicians are being put on alert in Kashmir, especially Srinagar, ahead of the G-20 Tourism Working Group meeting scheduled for next week.
Official sources said several schools in the city, especially those in “vulnerable pockets” in Srinagar, will be closed for the next one week. A teacher, who teaches at a private school located on the outskirts of Srinagar city, said she received “directions from the school administration to announce a nine-day holiday from May 17”.
“The feeling among the people is that there is no prospect of any disturbance during the G-20 meeting. I wish the administration didn’t impose its will and ask educational institutions to be closed for five to seven days,” senior Congress leader Saif-ud-Din Soz said.
Official sources said security around those pockets inhabited by members of the minority communities in south Kashmir have been heightened and the members advised “to be careful, especially after sundown”.
Police have been asked to increase vigil in the areas where migrant labourers reside in the city. Several road intersections, where labourers would assemble, have been closed for traffic and labourers have been advised against assembling on roadsides, official sources said.
Several protected mainstream leaders have been advised “to restrict their movement” till the G-20 meeting is over. “We have been advised to limit our movement in the wake of growing threats [from militants],” a senior leader said.
Commuters alleged the police seized dozens of two-wheelers, which could be used by militants, for “violating traffic rules”.
Meanwhile, teams of the elite National Security Guard (NSG) and MARCOS marine commandos have carried out drills ahead of the meeting in Srinagar.
“We will conduct the meeting smoothly and successfully. All security arrangements are made. There will be three-tier security. Anti-drone equipment has been set up for air surveillance,” Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) Vijay Kumar said.
In north Kashmir’s Baramulla, police booked three locals under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) for “anti-national activities”. “They have been subsequently lodged in the Central Kot-Bhalwal Jail, Jammu,” police said. A 10-kg improvised explosive device (IED) was recovered during a search operation in Mendhar area of Poonch district.
Incarcerated separatist leader Shabir Ahmad Shah’s daughter alleged their house was “ransacked by security forces”. “Our rooms are messed up, with all of the almirahs open and everything else thrown throughout. I’m disgusted by how everything has been destroyed. My mother was warned that they would return,” Mr. Shah’s daughter Sehar Shah said, while tweeting a video of the raid.
Former Chief Minister and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti condemned the raid. “Right before G-20, security forces are breaking into homes, ransacking and violating the privacy of people here. As if the existing repression in Kashmir wasn’t enough, GOIs [Government of India’s] paranoia about G-20 has unleashed bigger demons. Even women are not being spared,” Ms. Mufti said.
Meanwhile, the police said Mr. Shah’s house was among 20 houses searched “after inputs of movement of terrorists in the locality”. “This has nothing to do with G-20 but is routine in case of inputs. No harassment/harm whatsoever was caused during this search and all SOPs were followed. The lady is strangely linking this with G-20, more strange is an ex-CM too linking this with the event, when she herself was privy to such search in a particular locality due to terrorist sighting,” the police said.