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Authorities reimposes some restrictions in Kashmir ahead of Eid al-Adha

Reuters Srinagar | Updated on August 11, 2019 Published on August 11, 2019

Restrictions have been imposed in several districts of Jammu and Kashmir as a precautionary measure after Article 370 was revoked by the Central Government. Photo: PTI   -  PTI

The Centre had locked down the region last Sunday, cutting off communications, detaining more than 300 political leaders and activists

The authorities have reimposed some restrictions in parts of Kashmir on Sunday ahead of the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha.

This comes amid fears that large gatherings could trigger renewed protests against the Centre’s move to withdraw Article 370.

The Centre had locked down the region last Sunday, cutting off communications, detaining more than 300 political leaders and activists. They also put a 'virtual curfew' into force with numerous police and army roadblocks stopping movement by many residents.

On Friday, restrictions on movement in some parts of the Srinagar were relaxed, with people pouring out on to the streets to stock up on provisions.

But protests erupted after Friday prayers, with pro-independence youth demonstrating before being repelled by tear gas and pellets, according to police sources, witnesses and footage shown by international broadcasters.

Police checkpoints were also placed on some roads leading to the old quarter of the city, a traditional hotbed of protests, and some streets in central Srinagar.

Officials were debating how to handle Monday's Eid-al-Adha festival, one of the two most important festivals of the Islamic calendar, which typically sees several thousands throng major mosques in Srinagar.

Officials will hold a video-conference with senior police and administration officials from all 10 districts in the disputed Kashmir valley on Sunday evening to decide on restrictions, two senior state government officials said.

“We will make an assessment of the situation today, I do not think we will allow large gatherings,” one official said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.

A report stated that at least 10,000 people were involved in Friday's protest in Srinagar's Soura area, based on an estimate provided by a police source and backed up by two eyewitnesses.

Dilbag Singh, the Jammu and Kashmir director general of police, said that between 1,000 and 1,500 people were returning from praying at mosques on Friday when “some miscreants” started pelting stones at security officials.

“It was a reaction to stone pelting by these miscreants that one or two rounds of pump action gun was fired,” Singh said, adding that four to five men suffered injuries.

Authorities had detained around 300 local leaders in total and some of them had been taken out of Kashmir, he said.

Read: Explainer: What is Article 370?

Pakistan's wrath

Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic ties with India and suspended trade in anger at Delhi's latest move.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday compared India's ruling Hindu nationalist party's policies to dictator Adolf Hitler's “Nazi Aryan Supremacy.” He warned Modi's actions would go beyond Kashmir and eventually target Indian Muslims and neighbouring Pakistan.

“Attempt is to change demography of Kashmir through ethnic cleansing. Question is: Will the world watch & appease as they did Hitler at Munich?” Khan tweeted.

Ram Madhav, a senior leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), hit back.

“Threat to democratic world is from Pak-sponsored Jehadi terror, not from India,” Madhav tweeted.

Pakistan said on Saturday that it had gained China's support to take a motion to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) condemning the Indian decision to change the status of Jammu and Kashmir.

Islamabad has not received much support from other major nations, however, suggesting its odds of success at the United Nations (UN) were slim.

Blocked off from the world and largely unable to work or socialize, many Kashmiris were sombre ahead of Monday's festival. Some said they would not partake in the ritual sacrificing of sheep.

“What kind of Eid is this? We cannot reach our loves ones, we cannot visit our relatives' homes, then what are we celebrating?” said one elderly man walking down a street in downtown Srinagar's Jamia Masjid area.

Published on August 11, 2019
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