BSF jawans stand guard during curfew in Srinagar on Monday. The BSF has been re-deployed on law and order duty as the unrest enters 45th day in the Kashmir Valley. (Photo: PTI)
SRINAGAR: As the unrest in the Valley refuses to die down, Border Security Force (BSF) has returned to Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, after 11 years, to supplement the government’s effort to contain the situation.
On Monday, a column of the BSF troopers was seen deployed in curfew-bound Srinagar’s Lal Chowk neighbourhood. They had mounted their weapons and taken up positions in the street corners and footpaths and more were standing guard along the nearby Residency Road. The men from J&K police and the CRPF in riot gear were patrolling the otherwise deserted streets.
BSF troopers were deployed in Srinagar and other areas of the State towards the end of 1989 when the Kashmiri separatist campaign turned violent with hundreds of local youth taking to the gun. However, it started its phase-out from the Valley in November 2003 and was replaced by the CRPF first in Srinagar where its eight battalions were deployed then.
The pullout started after the government, against the backdrop of the reports from two separate committees on the initial fiasco on the Kargil front, felt that this additional burden was leading to a dilution of the BSF’s mandate and degrading its ability to perform its primary role of guarding the country’s borders.
In 2005, the government decided to implement recommendations to restrict each security agency to its mandate and soon the BSF was completely withdrawn from counter-insurgency duties and diverted back to guard the India-Pakistan border.
Bringing it back to Srinagar only points to the gravity which the prevailing situation in the Valley is being seen with by the authorities. The BSF was deployed in Srinagar as tensions were running very high in the aftermath of the killing of a local youth Irfan Ahmed Wani. He was hit by a teargas shell in the chest during a protest in City’s Nowhatta area late Sunday evening and soon died in hospital.