New Delhi: Union Home Minister Amit Shah is set to begin his three-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir today amid heightened security following a spate of targeted civilian killings in the union territory in recent weeks. This will be the Union minister’s first visit to the Union Territory since its formation following the scrapping of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.
The recent spate of killings has forced officials to strengthen the security to cover and fortify a 20-km radius around Raj Bhavan on Gupkar road where Amit Shah will be camping for three days.
The visit comes at a time when the Union Territory is spooked with the targeted killings of civilians – most of whom are from the minority communities – and heightened terrorism by Pakistan backed outfits. Eleven civilians, including migrant labourers, were killed this month.
As per the tentative schedule, Amit Shah will inaugurate a direct flight between Srinagar and Sharjah on the first day of his visit. “Announcement about this was made last month by the Civil Aviation Minister and it will be a direct flight between Srinagar and Sharjah,” a senior official told NDTV.
The Union home minister will also meet families of those killed in the recent civilian killings in the Union Territory.
He is then scheduled to chair a meeting of the Unified Command to review the situation on the ground.
“Last month after a meeting in New Delhi he had tasked agencies with some homework. He will be reviewing those aspects on the ground,” a source told NDTV.
According to the source, special focus will be on increased levels of infiltrations through the borders.
Chief of Intelligence Bureau Arvind Kumar, chief of Border Security Force Pankaj Singh, Chief of CRPF and the chief of the NSG along with Jammu and Kashmir’s top cop will share their feedback with Amit Shah on security-related issues.
On Sunday, Amit Shah will travel to Jammu where he will address a public rally – Jan Samwad. “He will again fly back to Srinagar where he will spend all three nights,” the source further said.
On Monday, the Union Home Minister is likely to meet sarpanches (village heads) to address their concerns before flying out.
Meanwhile, security has been tightened in the valley with a battery of drones and motorboats of the CRPF scanning Srinagar on Friday – the eve of the minister’s arrival.
Drones flew across Srinagar to keep a tab of any suspicious movement of the people while motorboats of the CRPF scanned the Dal Lake and the Jehlum River that flows through the interiors of the city.
“Regular area domination exercises are being carried out. Also, flash nakas are being organised,” CRPG’s Deputy Inspector General (Operations) Mathew A John told NDTV.
“Snipers and sharpshooters have been deployed at strategic places. Vehicles are being checked and pedestrians are being frisked. It’s not to harass the public but for their safety, too,” he added.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have jointly put together an “aerial surveillance cover” over the areas where members of the minority communities live besides over the city centre – Lal Chowk – to prevent further attacks by terrorists.
“The step has been taken in the wake of the recent attacks on minority community members and non-local labourers,” the DIG of CRPF said.
According to him, officials in plain clothes will monitor areas across Srinagar to track terrorists and those helping them spread terror. At least 10 CRPF companies and 15 BSF teams from Delhi have been deployed in Srinagar.