People offer Friday prayers amid restrictions in Valley

NSA, DG CRPF review Kashmir situation
JAC Kargil suspends strike till Eid

Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, Aug 9: National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval and CRPF Director General Rajiv Rai Bhatnagar today visited Kashmir and held separate reviews of security situation in the Valley, where people offered Friday prayers in their local Mosques as restrictions were eased for the purpose.
Meanwhile, Joint Action Committee (JAC) Kargil today announced suspension of strike till Eid festival. A high-level Government delegation headed by Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra also visited Kargil today and met JAC leaders headed by Sheikh Nazir-ul-Mehdi and LAHDC Kargil Chairman Feroz Khan.
Doval, who has been camping in Kashmir since Tuesday, talked to locals and security personnel during a quick tour of the sensitive downtown areas today, official sources said.
Accompanied by his aides and senior police officers, he visited Eidgah locality and stopped at various places to interact with locals. He later talked to police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and thanked them for their wonderful work in maintaining law and order.
The NSA has instructed the security forces deployed in Jammu and Kashmir to ensure that the common people are not harassed in any manner during the tight restrictions imposed in the wake of abrogation of the Constitutional provisions that accorded special status to the State, the officials said.
Doval went to Shopian in South Kashmir on Wednesday and talked to the locals. He also interacted with the police and paramilitary personnel on the ground to keep their morale high.
Later, the NSA met Governor Satya Pal Malik at the Raj Bhavan in Srinagar and discussed the prevailing scenario with him. They emphasized on the importance of reaching out to people and helping them meet their daily needs, besides ensuring their safety and security.
Malik also discussed the arrangements made by the administration to facilitate people for observance of Eid-ul-Azha with religious fervour and gaiety.
Meanwhile, CRPF Director General Rajiv Rai Bhatnagar also visited parts of Kashmir including Srinagar to assess deployment of troops and security situation in the Valley. He was briefed on the situation by the local CRPF officials.
Meanwhile, after being confined to their homes for days, people in Kashmir offered Friday prayers in their local mosques as restrictions were eased for the purpose, officials said, adding the Valley was largely peaceful barring minor incidents of stone-pelting in the apple-town of Sopore in north Kashmir.
People, who have been virtually kept indoors because of heavy security deployment in the wake of removal of special status for Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the State, were allowed to go to mosques in their localities without being asked any questions by security personnel.
With no untoward incident, the situation, as of now, was reported to be fine in the Srinagar city and south Kashmir, officials said, but added that reports from all areas are yet to come.
The officials said there were minor incidents of stone-pelting in Sopore town of North Kashmir, 50 km from here, but were contained immediately and the crowd dispersed.
Restrictions were eased to allow people in Kashmir to offer Friday prayers in local mosques, officials said, as security forces were put on high alert across the Valley in an apparent move to prevent possible protests.
The decision to ease the restrictions was taken after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval directed authorities to ensure that no Kashmiri is harassed, they said.
The clampdown in Kashmir was imposed on Monday, hours before the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and split it into two Union Territories — Ladakh, and Jammu and Kashmir.
Security forces have been deployed in massive numbers across the Valley, particularly in Srinagar city and major towns, and barricades have been erected every 100 meters and only people allowed to pass are those with medical emergencies.
All telephone and Internet connections have been snapped in the Valley and only three news channels, including the State-run Doordarshan, can be accessed through cable TV networks.
Locals had stocked up essentials like food grains, fuel and medicines in the run-up to the Monday’s announcement by the Home Minister Amit Shah in the Rajya Sabha about revoking provisions of Article 370.
During easing of restrictions in some parts of the city, especially in the Civil Line areas on Thursday, the movement of the people remained thin, while a few shops mostly selling vegetables and medicines opened.
Meanwhile, Kargil town and surroundings in Ladakh division observed shutdown for second consecutive day today but in the evening the Joint Action Committee announced suspension of strike call till Eid celebrations.
In the morning, a high-level State Government delegation headed by Home Secretary Shaleen Kabra visited Kargil and met the JAC members headed by Sheikh Nazir ul Mehdi and then Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), Kargil, Chairman-cum-CEC, Feroz Khan.
The JAC members said they stand for united State and the Union Territory was never their demand. They regretted that people of Kargil were not being taken into confidence in taking decisions and their voice is not heard.
“We should be equal stakeholders in any decision making process,” they said, and called upon the State Government delegation to arrange their meeting with the representatives of the Central Government.
The delegation assured the JAC that their demands would be taken up with the Government.
However, in the evening, the JAC announced suspension of strike till Eid celebration to allow people celebrate the festival.