Srinagar: The iconic Centaur Lakeview hotel on the banks of the Dal Lake is all set to welcome the tourists. After over two decades, the Central Reserve Police Force personnel have vacated the building.
In the early ’90s, after militancy erupted in Kashmir valley, the forces were deployed across Srinagar in a haphazard manner. But now, with an aim to revive tourism, the new PDP-BJP government is moving the forces out of 25 hotels and tourist places in the city.
“Those were not our permanent positions, there was a need for us to be there and that’s why the CRPF had been deployed in hotels,” said KS Bhandari, Inspector General, CRPF. “We are shifting as we get alternate accommodation… this is an ongoing process.”
The move, the government expects, will create more space for tourists and reduce the visibility of the forces in the city, which is still recovering from the last year’s devastating floods.
But it also has a psychological impact — which is to reduce the footprint of the forces on the ground and instill a sense of confidence and security in the people.
Kashmir tourism industry has welcomed the move.
“The presence of security forces gives the looks of disturbed atmosphere, tourists get scared of such things,” said Mohammad Iqbal Tramboo, Vice-Chairman of the Kashmir Economic Alliance. “Once the bunkers are out and there is little presence of security forces in the streets, it looks more peaceful.”
After a massive unrest in the summer of 2010, the National conference government had got 45 CRPF bunkers removed from various parts of Srinagar as part of the Confidence Building Measures announced by the Centre.