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NEW DELHI: Hostel-type lodging facilities, to be secured by CRPF, are being identified in all districts of Kashmir to accommodate and shield grassroot-level people’s representatives and political workers from terrorist threats. The heightened protection comes in the wake of targeting killing of some sarpanches, panchayat members and lower-level political workers, particularly those affiliated with BJP, in the Valley over the past few months.
Sources in the central security establishment told TOI that all district collectors in the Kashmir region have been asked to identify vacant and available buildings — including hotels, guest houses, hostels and lodges — which will be converted into perimeter-secured facilities and used exclusively for accommodating panchayat heads and members as well as their immediate family members. CRPF will secure these buildings with proper perimeter and access control and 24X7 deployment of its personnel, minimising the potential threat of sudden attacks, abductions and killing that the representatives and their kin face from terrorists at their residences.
While CRPF will be in charge of static security, the mobile security of the local representatives will continue to be J&K police’s responsibility.
A government functionary said with the focus now on promoting grassroot-level democratic institutions and pushing development initiatives at the panchayat level in J&K, a fear or impression has been created in the terrorist ranks that it is only the local governments that matter and there is nothing beyond that. “With mainstream political space shrunk and local level institutions coming into prominence, terrorists too are bound to go after the latter,” an officer said while sharing the security agencies’ assessment of the recent attacks on sarpanch and panchayat members across Kulgam, Bandipore and Budgam.

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