Eid al-Adha in the Valley Monday was minus the festive cheer and prayers were offered in neighbourhood mosques ringed by by security forces to prevent people from congregating on roads or at Eidgahs and Jamia Masjids. Officials said the day passed off peacefully barring a few incidents which they dismissed as minor.
Although prohibitory orders were relaxed to allow people to offer prayers, the security lockdown and downing of communication lines continued for the eight consecutive day. Police and paramilitary personnel had placed barricades on all roads and there were strict curbs on movement of civilians.
The lockdown was imposed ahead of the government announcement revoking the special status of J&K and its bifurcation into two Union Territories.
J&K Principal Secretary and spokesperson for the administration Rohit Kansal told reporters that Eid prayers were offered in all districts of the Valley and Jammu. “All necessary arrangements were made to facilitate offering of prayers at mosques and other places… In Srinagar, across its length and breadth, people offered prayers in their local areas, in their local mosques. There were certain areas where restrictions were in place to ensure there is no mischief.”
IGP Kashmir S P Pani said there were “two minor localised incidents” in which “two injuries were reported” during the day which was otherwise peaceful. He did not say where these incidents took place. He denied
reports of bullets being fired.
At Anchar, Soura, on the outskirts of Srinagar, people took to the streets after the Eid prayers to protest abrogation of J&K’s special status.
Asked about the number of people detained by the government, Kansal and Pani said there was no “centralised number” on who had been arrested in which part of the Valley.
Kansal said restrictions have been removed from five districts of Jammu but continue to remain in place in parts of the Valley. Srinagar airport and the Srinagar-Jammu highway were open, he said, adding that 30 flights operated from Srinagar Monday.
To questions on lifting of the communication blackout, Kansal said, “Our overall policy is to remove restrictions wherever possible.” He said the government had set up 300 public points for phone connectivity.
Valley reporters at the briefing told the officers that they were being discriminated against while the administration was facilitating the work of TV crews from Delhi. They said they were being denied curfew passes and access to Internet and phones.
In Jammu, Eid celebrations remained a low key affair. Except for Kishtwar where some people raised slogans at the Jamia Masjid after the Eid prayers, the day passed off peacefully. Congress leader and former minister G M Saroori was not allowed to move out of his house to offer prayers.
In Doda, people offered prayers at local mosques because the administration did not allow them to gather at the Eidgah. The situation was no different in Rajouri and Poonch districts as well where people visited local mosques.
There was not much traffic on the roads and not many turned up to buy animals brought by traders. “There has been no buyer for the sheep since morning,’’ said a trader in Bhatindi.
In New Delhi, the Ministry of Home Affairs said Eid prayers in J&K began at 7 am at most mosques and continued till noon in some places, but no major incident was reported from anywhere.
“Eid prayers were 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,” it said.
The government gave out figures for mosque attendance at various places in Kashmir. “There were large prayer congregations at many places including Bandipora (Dar ul Uloom Rahimiya 5000, Jamia Masjid 2000), Baramulla (10,000), Kupwara (Eidgah 3500), Trehgam (3000), Sopore (1500), Kulgam (Qazigund 5500, Qaimoh 6000), Shopian (3000), Pulwama (1800), Awantipora (2500), Anantnag (Achabal 3000), Ganderbal (over 7000), Budgam (Chararesharif 5000, Magam 8000), Srinagar (hundreds of local mosques). In Jammu, over 5000 prayed at Eidgah. Similar large gatherings were there in Jammu province,” it said.
— With Deeptiman Tiwary in New Delhi