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Indian forces remove more bunkers from Kashmir capital

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Srinagar, India, March 18, IRNA -- Reducing the visible presence of the paramilitary forces in the urban areas further, the government removed twelve more paramilitary bunkers from the summer capital, most of them in congested old Srinagar, a development locals greeted with thanksgiving.

The removal came as part of a confidence building measure as suggested by New Delhi appointed interlocutors for seeking ways to resolve problems in Kashmir.

The midnight evacuation was carried out in the densely populated areas of Rainawari, Saraf Kadal, Zaina Kadal, Ali Kadal, Baba Demb, Nauhatta, Hawal and Gojwara in downtown Srinagar, and the Karan Nagar, Batmalu and Tulsi Bagh quarters of the upper city.

A permanent landmark of city life for two long decades, the massive sandbag monstrosities bestriding crossings, lanes and street corners with their camouflage nets and barbed wire barriers are often a target of armed attack, and a source of retaliation on civilians.

Residents in areas relieved of this threatening feature found themselves in a strangely new world this morning, with the bunkers gone and the streets devoid of the by-now familiar sight of uniformed, gun-toting personnel presiding over street life.

In many places, people were seen with large vessels of tahiri – a sanctified preparation of rice cooked in turmeric and other condiments – distributing blessed handfuls to passers-by in a gesture of thanksgiving at being rid of a constant threat.

With the latest demolitions, the number of bunkers removed from Srinagar is said to have gone up to 40, but the city is still dotted with a number of such impositions which block shop-fronts, clog streets and dominate roundabouts.

Large numbers of paramilitary forces are still camped in many city buildings, including hotels, cinema houses and other forms of civilian accommodation.

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