Srinagar: Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti’s eviction from her Gupkar residence has the security agencies on their toes as they claim her new accommodation is “not feasible” for a Z-Plus category protectee and prone to militant attacks.
They also claimed it will difficult to secure the 20-km route from her new residence to the city centre.
Mufti’s family though alleged it was not told about the threat perception before they moved in as the administration was “deliberately trying” to put her in harm’s way.
Mufti, the president of the PDP, moved into the residence at Khimber area on the outskirts of the city in November last year after she was evicted from the high-security ‘Fairview’ residence at Gupkar here where she had been living since 2005.
However, she was served multiple eviction notices in October last year, asking her to vacate the residence before November 15.
After Jammu and Kashmir was stripped of its special status and divided into two Union Territories in August 2019, its former chief ministers were no longer offered rent-free residential accommodation under the new laws.
Mufti then moved into the house at Khimber about 15 kms from Gupkar — belonging to her brother-in-law.
Before the family including Mufti’s daughter Iltija Mufti and mother Gulshan Nazir, moved into the new residence, security agencies carried out two security reviews of the place.
The security reviews show that the Khimber residence is “not feasible” for a Z-Plus protectee area as there were “apprehensions of a terrorist attack” on the former chief minister.
The reports make grave observations about the security situation around the house, suggesting that Khimber area is vulnerable from the security point of view, lacks proper road and reliable electricity, and has poor mobile connectivity.
“The backside of the house is covered with dense forest and there is every apprehension of terrorist attack/fear of wild animals, besides a high transmission power line is passing alongside of the said house,” the first report said.
The 20-km road leading to the house from Srinagar city via Zakura is “highly risky” with dense populated area in which recently militant attacks happened, it said.
The review report said the most portion of the alternate route from Khimber to the main city via Harwan, Darbagh, is also “hypersensitive”, covered with dense forests and unsafe for Mufti’s movement.
It added that the daily movement of SSG personnel from Khimber to their base in Srinagar’s Gupkar Road area will “expose” them to public interference “which can lead to a huge security breach”.
The house is located on a steep hill, and due to the steep patch of road, the smooth movement of vehicles, especially the BR (bullet-resistant) vehicles/jammers, is “difficult”, the report observed.
Keeping in view these facts , the report suggests, “It is not feasible for a Z-Plus protectee to reside in a far-flung area of the Srinagar city”.
The second review carried out on November 11 noted that the house was surrounded by orchards and open land that needs to be dominated on a regular basis.
While the report called for taking remedial measures, it said developing security infrastructure in the area was a “challenge” to the safety and security of residing forces as a high-transmission electricity line passes over the land.
However, Mufti’s family claims no infrastructure — as pointed out by the reports — has been put in place there and even the reports were not shared with them.
“For me what is disconcerting is that this report was never shared with us. It is through media that we heard of these rumours circulating about the reports after we moved in. They (administration) did not tell us anything formally,” Mufti’s daughter Iltija Mufti told PTI here.
Iltija said the security review reports were “very adverse” and every security agency from CID to IB to the local police have “vetoed this residence, and in very strong terms”.
She said even after living there for one and a half months, “nothing has been done to upgrade the security or the facilities”.
She charged that the administration was deliberately trying to put the former CM in harm’s way.
“Everybody here is a sitting duck. My guess is that this report was trashed because they want to keep my mother in harm’s way because she is obviously not toeing their line which has made them extremely uncomfortable,” Iltija said.
Mufti’s daughter said the family is concerned about the security of the former CM.
She also alleged that the government was also putting the lives of the security personnel in jeopardy. “The administration is indulging in petty politics at the cost of the lives of people,” she said.
“If tomorrow, God forbid, something happens to my mother, the administration will be responsible,” she warned.
The family claimed they were offered an alternative accommodation in the high-security Tulsi Bagh here — where bureaucrats and politicians live — by the administration, but they found the place “unsuitable” because of “lack of privacy” and many other issues.