Srinagar: The administration in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) is identifying land across districts to set up prefabricated huts for the thousands of paramilitary personnel rushed to the state ahead of the Article 370 move, ThePrint has learnt.
The personnel will be posted in J&K through the entirety of its fierce winter, until at least March 2020, which marks the end of the season in these parts.
“The process of identifying land to make these temporary shelters has already begun,” said a senior government official. “Different departments of the state administration are closely working with the paramilitary forces on the plan to build the huts.”
Around 700 companies from different paramilitary forces, including the Central Reserve Police Force and the Border Security Force, were sent to the state in the week before the Modi government scrapped Article 370 on 5 August.
As of now, the troops are either staying at battalion camps or government buildings. In some places, the forces have taken over vacant or under-construction homes and buildings, an arrangement not feasible for the winter, which routinely thrusts Kashmir and Ladakh into sub-zero temperatures and blankets of snow.
‘Law & order is priority’
According to the aforementioned official, the huts will be designed to protect the paramilitary forces from the harsh winters, and thus built from insulated panels.
“The idea is to bring in insulated sheets from outside the state,” said the official.
“There are several other modalities that are yet to be decided, such as the seller of the insulated sheets or if private contractors will be hired to do the job,” the official added. “For now, land has to be identified first. The costs of the plan will be incurred by the state administration.”
A second senior state government official said maintaining law and order in J&K, which remains under a communication lockdown after being stripped of its special status and bifurcated last month, was the top priority for the union and state governments.
To this end, the continued deployment of paramilitary forces, brought in late July and early August, was a requirement, the official added.
“The law and order situation in J&K has remained normal so far. No major violent incidents have been reported, and nor has there been any mass demonstration,” the official said. “This was a direct result of the strategic deployment of paramilitary forces and J&K Police. The deployment will continue for the winter.”
The decision comes amid a reported increase in sightings of foreign militants in the Valley.
As reported by ThePrint last week, government sources estimate that sightings of militants in the Valley’s south have increased by 60-70 per cent.
According to police, heightened militant movement has also been reported from several areas in the north that have not been known to host such activity.