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Beautification of Srinagar highway poses threat to Army convoys
3/17/2018 7:26:01 PM
Early Times Report
srinagar, Mar 16: The ongoing beautification of the Srinagar highway between Athwajan and Parimpora here is a threat to the movement of Army and other security force convoys on this sensitive track, the security analysts have cautioned.
The R&B is spending crores of rupees on raising iron fencing on the central verge of the highway and subsequent beautification through landscaping and ornamental plantation, but the "over-beautification" of the open space has made the highway more vulnerable to militant attacks and IED explosions.
A retired police official, who has vast experience of tackling counter-insurgency operations in Kashmir, said till now the open space on the central verge of the highway was a blessing for the security forces as there was a clear view of the ground.
"Sanitizing the highway was the easy due to open space and maintaining vigil was equally easy for the security forces, but by raising the tall fencing and decoration inside has made the highway highly vulnerable to militant strikes," the retired police official said on the condition of anonymity.
He said there was possibility of security breach due to the fencing.
His observation holds weight as in the recent past militants have been desperate to explode IED on this stretch of the highway. Two months ago, three IEDs were defused on the highway ahead in MHT area.
"Till now planting an IED was not easy. Due to open space things were quite visible but now maintaining a vigil will be almost impossible," said an official.
Pertinently this stretch of the highway has always been seen as sensitive for militant attacks.
In June 2013, at least seven Army jawans were killed and numerous others injured, when militants attacked a convoy at Hyderpora. Since then many more attacks have taken place along this "sensitive stretch" of the highway.
Sources said the Roads and Building Department was under pressure to execute the beautification work worth crores of rupees only to benefit some contractors close to a minister in the Peoples Democratic Party led government.
Talking to Early Times, a senior official in the R&B acknowledged that the beautification was "waste of money." "The road is dilapidated and we are yet to install lights on bridges on this highway while the bridges have developed such fissures on the foothpaths that anyone can slip to death. But instead of spending money on such works, Minister forced us for beautification," said an engineer in the R&B.
A senior police officer said that there was a need for the Divisional Commissioner to call a "high command meeting with Army at an earliest" to decide future course of action. "Let the government decide on security issue."
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