14 Srinagar hotels for ‘protected persons’ vacated, district admins told to arrange accommodation

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Amid security high alert, accommodation for protected persons in 14 hotels in capital city Srinagar has been vacated as the district authorities have been asked to take responsibility for “safe and secure” accommodation for them in the respective districts.

The decision came at the time when Kashmir region saw a spurt of civilian killings last week as at least seven civilians were killed across the valley by suspected militants. Among them, most of the killings were carried out in the capital city Srinagar.

According to the minutes of the meeting, a copy of which is with The Kashmir Walla, the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Pandurang K. Pole on Saturday impressed upon district authorities that, “in the wake of the dehiring of accommodation in 14 hotels at Srinagar concerned district admin shall be now solely responsible for the safe and secure
accommodation in the districts”.

He further said, “those who are yet to report in the district shall be immediately called back by deputing security teams to Srinagar and in this regard SSP Srinagar shall be taken on board.”

On Tuesday, several persons who were asked to vacate accommodation marched from Press Enclave to Civil Secretariat in Srinagar to protest against the move.

The protestors were supported by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party leaders in Kashmir, demanding revocation of the move.

During the meeting it was impressed upon district administration that, “irrespective of the undertaking given by protected persons with regard to refusal of security and secure accommodation, possibility shall be explored to accommodate them in safe and secure accommodation identified by District Administration.”

However, the protestors said that the administration has left elected representatives to “get killed” by snatching their accomodation in the city.

“As authorities are saying that accommodation has been arranged for them [protected persons] at district levels and when they [district administration] is contacted in this regard they do not even receive phone calls,” said Altaf Thakur, a BJP leader, who was among the protestors.

“We will protest against the move till the issue is resolved,” Thakur said.

However a senior police official told The Kashmir Walla that the decision is part of the process that has been taken at least a month ago and has no relation with the current situation.

He said, “accomodation for the protected persons has been identified at district levels and are being provided with the facility”.

Sources in the administration told The Kashmir Walla that the decision was taken to lessen the burden on state exchequer as accommodation in different hotels in the city were hired on rent.

In the district, sources added, the government has its own buildings that are to be used for the accommodation of the protected persons.

In the past, after attacks by suspected militants on public representatives in the region, the government had shifted several dozen to “secure” accommodations in the capital city.

Given the current situation in the valley, authorities have taken strict measures in the region as minorities, politicians, elected panchayati raj members, and protected persons have been asked to restrict their movement. Government forces deployment has also been beefed up in the region

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