Life in Lal Chowk, the city centre of Srinagar returned to normal on Monday following an assurance from the government that the CRPF bunker in the area would be shifted.

Lal Chowk had witnessed two day long encounter on January 6 and 7 after two militants attacked a police party and then were holed up in Punjab Hotel. They were killed in the encounter. A policeman and a civilian were also killed and eight others injured and Punjab Hotel gutted.

Later on, the shopkeepers in the area demanded that the bunker be removed as they think it attracts militant attacks. They closed shops for four days. But on Sunday, Minister of State Nasir Aslam Wani held meeting with trader’ community and assured them that it would be removed soon following which they agreed to open the shops. Today, Lal Chowk and other areas of the city began the day with usual hustle and bustle. Transport facilities are also normal and offices and banks are open. Despite cold, the sunshine in Srinagar has made the atmosphere pleasant.

The CRPF has occupied a gutted cinema building since 20 years and it has been witnessing several attacks. CRPF authorities have said that they had no objection in vacating the camp. “CRPF has no objection if the State government asks us to vacate the camp and bunker from the Palladium market,” IG CRPF, N. C. Asthana was quoted as saying by a local newspaper.

He said since paramilitary forces are at the disposal of State government, they would have to abide by the directions of the government. “Our legal position is that we are at the disposal of the State government. If the government asks us to withdraw from Palladium market or elsewhere in the city we have to oblige,” Mr. Asthana said.

Miinster of State Nasir Aslam Wani told The Hindu that the demands put forth by the traders were discussed with them and “I will take them up with Chief Minister”. Something concrete will be done to address the issue very soon, he said.

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