Eid prayers peaceful, festival buzz missing in Valley

NSA, others undertake aerial survey
Not a single bullet fired, no casualties: Govt
Excelsior Correspondent/PTI
SRINAGAR, Aug 12: The festive buzz was missing in Kashmir today with Eid prayers limited to neighbourhood mosques as authorities imposed strict controls and security forces fanned out across towns and villages, restricting the movement of people and prohibiting congregations in large grounds.
Eid-ul-Adha passed off peacefully, barring a few minor incidents, said Inspector General of Police S P Pani, adding that there was no firing anywhere in the Kashmir valley.
“The Eid namaz was offered in different mosques and after the prayers the congregations dispersed peacefully. There were a couple of minor localised incidents of law and order which have been handled very professionally. In these incidents, there have been a couple of injuries which have been reported,” he said at a press conference.
Rohit Kansal, Principal Secretary and the designated official spokesperson of the Government, said Eid was celebrated in 90 per cent of the place.
But the mood was subdued with roads deserted across large swathes of the Valley, the silence broken only by police sirens and IAF helicopters hovering overhead.
Phone lines, mobile or landline, as well as internet connections have been suspended for the last eight days, leaving many families trying desperately to reach out to their loved ones but being unable to do so.
Kashmiris woke up to armed personnel deployed at every possible corner asking them to remain indoors.
The Eidgah ground and places such as the Hazratbal shrine, the TRC ground and the Syed Saheb mosque were quiet and desolate this Eid — that comes exactly a week after the Centre announced that the Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 was being revoked and proposing that the State be split into two Union Territories.
In many places, people could be seen requesting security personnel to let them through.
One of them was Mohammed Asgar, a resident of Indira Nagar in this main city of the Valley.
“I wanted to wish my brother who stays across the road but was not allowed to do so, said Asgar, who wanted to meet his ailing brother in Shivpora, a distance of less than a kilometre from Indira Nagar.
Officials said on condition of anonymity that restrictions had to be put in place as people could have turned violent after Eid prayers. Last Friday, more than 10 people were injured with pellets and teargas shells when a congregation following the prayers turned violent in Soura on the outskirts of the city.
Some people gathered outside hotels housing media personnel, hoping to be able to call their children and families in other parts of the country.
They returned dejected when they learnt phones were not available to media personnel as well.
“I thought I would be able to speak to my son studying in Bangalore as I could see journalists on television regularly and thought they had phone connections, said Nusrat Begum.
She and her husband Riyaz Mohammed went to the Syed Saheb Shrine in uptown Sonawar but could not offer prayers.
“We thought we will first offer prayers at the shrine and then try our luck and speak to our child. To our surprise, the shrine is locked and imam is not to be seen anywhere,” said Riyaz.
In local mosques, people were allowed inside in singles, officials said.
Hilal and Bilal of Dalgate area said they were not allowed to go together to their local mosque by security personnel who cited restrictions under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
People came out in good numbers to offer Eid prayers in Jammu and Kashmir and prayers concluded at prominent mosques in Srinagar and Shopian, according to a Union Home Ministry spokesperson in New Delhi.
“Info from various districts in #JammuAndKashmir. #Eid prayers offered peacefully in all local mosques of Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam and Bandipora, without any untoward incident. Jamia masjid in old town Baramulla witnessed approx 10,000 people offering prayers,” the spokesperson tweeted.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval today undertook an aerial survey of the city and South Kashmir areas to take stock of the security situation.
Officials said police chief Dilbag Singh and Army Commanders also undertook separate aerial visits of various parts of the Kashmir valley.
The officers found the situation to be absolutely fine, they said.
Meanwhile, Principal Secretary (Planning Commission) and Government spokesman, Rohit Kansal said: “I reiterate that not a single bullet has been fired by the security agencies nor has there been any casualty.”
“Eid prayers were concluded peacefully in all parts of J&K today. Prayers began at 7 am at most mosques which continued till noon in some places. Movement of people was facilitated by police forces as necessary,” Kansal said.
In Pulwama (1800), Awantipora (2500), Anantnag (Achabal 3000), Ganderbal (over 7000), Budgam (Charar-e-Sharif 5000, Magam 8000), Srinagar (hundreds of local mosques) and in Jammu, over 5000 prayed at Eidgah; large gatherings were also seen in entire Jammu province, the State Government said.
He said restrictions on connectivity continue as a result of security requirements. However, people are being facilitated to contact their relatives & children outside state through widespread deployment of helplines at convenient locations like DC office, Police stations & Police posts.
NSA Ajit Doval today interacted with J&K Police and CRPF personnel who are working for 16-17 hrs a day. NSA appreciated their commitment and spirit. Amazing spirit and hard work. Excellent cooperation between JKP, CRPF, Army, BSF and all security agencies whose morale is high, sources said.
“Adequate supplies are in stock. There is no shortage of Insulin and various Life saving drugs. In case of any feedback people are advised to bring to notice of the concerned Medical Superintendents/ Chief Medical Officers,” the spokesman said.
Health Secretary, Atal Dulloo along with Advisor Vijay Kumar & other Health Deptt officers visited hospitals in Kupwara, Handwara, Sopore, Bandipora, Anantnag & Srinagar yesterday and made an on spot assessment of medical supplies.
Meanwhile, Jammu and Kashmir Police has asked authorities to take action against suspicious Twitter handles for spereading face news.
While addressing the media, Principal Secretary to Government and Government spokesperson Rohit Kansal today said that Eid Prayers have been offered in all districts of Kashmir as well in Jammu region. All necessary arrangements were made to facilitate the people for offering prayers at mosques and other places.
Peace and harmony witnessed across Jammu & Kashmir during Eid.
Kansal said that people in large numbers came out to offer Eid prayers in their local areas and mosques in entire Kashmir division.
He said that in Srinagar district, hundreds of people visited various mosques mainly including Maqdoom Sahab, Dastgeer Sahab, Iqra Masjid and other places to offer Eid namaz. All other districts of Kashmir division also saw movement of people to the mosques for offering prayers.
Giving details, it was informed that in Budgam district, prayers were offered at the mosques at Magam, Narbal, Charar-e-Sharief and Pakherpora and a large number of people gathered at these mosques to offer the prayers which concluded peacefully.
In Ganderbal also hundreds of people visited Preng Masjid, Saloora, Gund, Kurhama, Beehama, Jamia Masjid Kangan where they participated in the religious prayers.
Mosques in Pulwama district also saw large number of people who gathered at various mosques for the purpose of offering prayers with their family members and friends. Main Town Mosque Pulwama and Kakapora witnessed hundreds of people for offering Eid prayers.
Large number of people gathered to offer prayers in Anantnag, Bijbehara, Aishmuqam, Achabal, Eidgah Tral, Darul Aloom Tral, Zainapora Shopian, Keygam, Keller and Arhama in Shopian, Ziyarat Sharief, Jamia Masjid, Yaripora, Qazigund, Qoimoh, Kund in Kulgam, the spokesman said.
In Northern Kashmir, large number of gatherings for Eid prayers was witnessed in Handwara, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora and Sopore.
Similarly in Jammu division, people participated in Eid prayers at all major mosques in all the districts. Large gatherings of people were witnessed who offered prayers at Jama Masjid in the winter capital city Jammu, he added.
Besides, large gatherings in various mosques of Ramban, Kistwar, Doda, Rajouri and Poonch were seen offering Eid prayers.
Kansal said that elaborate arrangements were made by the divisional and district administrations for facilitating the people to celebrate the festival. He further informed that sufficient stock of sheep was made available in the mandies/markets established by the Government at various places in all the districts for sacrifice during the Eid celebrations.
He also extended Eid greetings to the people of Jammu & Kashmir.
Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) S P Pani also said the Jammu and Kashmir administration was committed to maintain peace and order and the State police worked in this direction.
“The Eid namaz was offered in different mosques and after the prayers, the congregations dispersed peacefully. There have been a couple of minor localised incidents of law and order which have been handled very professionally.
“In these incidents, there have been a couple of injuries which have been reported. Otherwise the entire Valley situation is peaceful. I strongly deny any incident of firing anywhere in the Kashmir valley,” he told a press conference here.
The IGP also said no medicolegal case has been reported, and according to the statistics available with the police, injuries to only a couple of people have been reported.
“I am saying that they were admitted in the hospital but they are absolutely stable,” he said.
Referring to the law and order situation, Pani said some arrests were made but these were “absolutely in the ambit of law” and all those arrested were produced before the court and legal actions are being taken.
“At this stage, every district has got its own priority and depending on the local situation, depending on the incident, they respond and they try to maintain the order,” he said.
The IGP also said there has been a malicious campaign on social media and the contents of these were strongly refuted by the police. “We request citizens not to pay attention to such things. We have strongly denied this,” he said, referring to a tweet by a Pakistani journalist in which he alleged a fratricidal incident involving security forces in the Kashmir valley.
Pani said lifting or imposing restrictions was a dynamic process and the administration was giving some relaxation as per the local situation.
The IGP thanked the people for cooperating with the administration in maintaining the order and said the reasonable restrictions imposed at certain sensitive places were completely maintained.
“Depending on the local situation, some relaxation has been given as the situation has developed,” he said.