Muted Eid celebrations in Kashmir amid severe restrictions
Published: 16:43 12 August 2019 Updated: 16:48 12 August 2019
Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir today celebrated Eid-al-Azha amid massive security restrictions, with the Indian government sharing photos of prayers at smaller neighbourhood mosques in Srinagar as streets remained deserted and watched by security personnel. Reports said prayers were not allowed at major mosques in Srinagar and large gatherings stayed banned across the Kashmir Valley.
In a statement, the Union home ministry said large prayer congregations were seen at many places of Kashmir Valley including Baramulla, where 10,000 people gathered, and in Bandipora, around where 5,000 people took part in the prayers.
The Jammu and Kashmir police tweeted that Eid prayers had been peaceful.
Sharing visuals of people distributing sweets after namaz, Union Home Ministry spokesperson Vasudha Gupta tweeted: "Eid prayers offered peacefully in all local mosques of Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam, Bandipore, without any untoward incident. Jamia Masjid old town Baramulla witnessed approx 10,000 people offering prayers".
Large parts of the state have been under a security lockdown since last week, when the government scrapped special status to Jammu and Kashmir and decided to split the state into two union territories.
The restrictions, eased on Saturday to facilitate Eid shopping, returned on Sunday as the government said sporadic clashes took place in Srinagar. The government said, "reasonable restrictions" were imposed on large gatherings in sensitive areas of the city.
The residents of Srinagar had come out in large numbers to shop for Eid on Sunday morning. Later in the day, sources said police vehicles were seen making announcements on loudspeakers asking people to return to their homes, and shopkeepers were told to shut down.
The government said despite restrictions, arrangements were made for smooth Eid festivities. In Srinagar, mobile vans were provided for door-to-door delivery of vegetables, LPG cylinders, poultry and eggs. Special telephone booths were also being established to help people communicate with their relatives.
"Over 2.5 lakh sacrificial animals were arranged by administration, mandis were set up in eight places, treasuries and banks were kept open, over Rs. 500 crore was released in two-three days, including wages of employees and others. Restrictions were eased on Sunday, we saw traffic at many places," said Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary, Planning Commission.
In a statement, the Union home ministry said restrictions have been completely lifted in 5 districts of Jammu and limited to the night in 5 districts of Jammu. "Similar local relaxation was done in the 9 other districts of Kashmir based on local assessment of the situation," a statement read.
The removal and tightening of restrictions is a local exercise by the police and district administration based on their assessment of the need to maintain public order and peace. As and when situation demands, the easing is happening across the state, the government said.
Thousands of security personnel remain in the Kashmir Valley and phone and internet services have still not been restored.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), which is posted across the state, said it distributed sweets at Eidgah. "As sweets and smiles are directly related to festivals, CRPF Jammu distribute both at Eidgah Jammu on this Eid-al-Adha. Eid Mubarak to you all," CRPF officer M Dhinakaran tweeted.
In his speech to the nation on Friday on his Kashmir decisions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had assured that the people of the state would not face any trouble in celebrating Eid and that the situation in the valley would return to normal gradually.
Last Friday, people were allowed to visit neighbourhood mosques and offer prayers there. However, large gatherings were not allowed in any part of the Valley.
A Home Ministry spokesperson said on Saturday that there had been "stray protests" in Srinagar and Baramulla, none of which involved a crowd of more than 20 people. The Home Ministry has dismissed media reports about a protest by some 10,000 people in Kashmir valley as "fabricated and incorrect".
The government said people must not believe in rumours about alleged incidents of firing in Kashmir valley.
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah's National Conference has appealed in the Supreme Court against the government's decision. In its petition - filed by party MPs Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi - the party claimed the centre's move was "illegal".
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