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Kashmir Dispatch 5 | Usual Festivities, Buzz Missing, Valley Residents Lament Situation Ahead of Eid

Usually a few days before Eid in Kashmir, people visit their loved ones and relatives. But this time, there has been no communication, with people unable to even contact their relatives and family members.

Aakash Hassan | News18.com@Aakashhassan

Updated:August 12, 2019, 12:15 PM IST
Kashmir Dispatch 5 | Usual Festivities, Buzz Missing, Valley Residents Lament Situation Ahead of Eid
A vendor pushes his cart as security personnel guard in a street on the seventh day of curfew, in Srinagar, Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. (PTI Photo)

Srinagar: Eid is the biggest festival for the Muslim world. And for the Kashmir Valley. Each year, preparations for Eid-ul-Azha start at least a week before the festival.

People up their houses, rush to markets to shop for clothes, accessories, gifts and much more. In Kashmir, Eid without sumptuous baked goods seems impossible. There are usually long queues outside bakery shops, people purchase different types of breads and cookies. The markets keep buzzing.

But the scene has been very different this time. The bakeries in Srinagar, which would go out of stock on Arfa (a day before Eid), have been unable to sell even 10% of what they used to.

The purchase of clothes and gifts did not start even a week before Eid, with the festival to be celebrated on Monday. The markets in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley remained shut. People barely managed to navigate their way past the barricades manned by paramilitary troops in order to buy some bakery products and other essentials.

"We are storing the basic commodities. May be the restrictions will stretch for a long time," said Mohammad Salman, a resident of uptown Srinagar. "Eid, a time of happiness, has been turned into a time of misery for us."

Also read: Kashmir Dispatch 1 | Food and Fear a Struggle as Kashmiris Grapple With the New Normal on Day 4 of Lockdown

Kashmir is under a clampdown, with paramilitary troops fanning across the Valley and Section 144 (restricting the assembly of four or more people in public), imposed. All telephone communication and internet services have been snapped. The restrictions were imposed after the central government revoked article 370, which conferred special status on Jammu and Kashmir, and divided the state into two Union Territories.

Usually a few days before Eid in Kashmir, people visit their loved ones and relatives. But this time, there has been no communication, with people unable to even contact their relatives and family members.

Those either studying or working outside Kashmir would usually visit their families on Eid. But this time, most of them have refrained from coming back home for the festival. Those who have been able to contact their children studying outside have warned them, “Don't come on Eid.”

Also read: Kashmir Dispatch 2 | Hello, Abbu! Two Words That Ended Five Long Days of Misery for Akhtars in Srinagar, Delhi and Dhaka

“Eid is a time of festivity, but there is nothing festive in Kashmir this time," Naseema Begum, who managed to call her daughter in Bengaluru from a government helpline, told News 18.

“My daughter is studying in a college in Bengaluru and would visit us every Eid. We had booked tickets for her in advance this time as well, but now I told her not to come," said Begum.

“We don't know what will happen on Eid here,” said Begum, adding that at least her daughter is safe in Bengaluru.

Earlier this week, restrictions were eased to allow people to offer Friday prayers in local mosques, officials said on Friday as security forces were put on high alert across the Valley in an apparent move to prevent possible protests. People were reportedly allowed to visit mosques in their localities without being asked any questions by security personnel.

On Eid-ul-Azha, lakhs of animals to be sacrificed are sold in Kashmir. This time, the market has been grim.

Mohammed Waleed, a cattle seller in Srinagar, gives an idea of the situation.

“The week before Eid would be the best time for us. We would sell 600 to 700 cattle in two days, but this week we have been able to sell only 50 sheep," he said, adding that even the prices of cattle had plummeted.

"The rate per kilogram usually would be Rs 350, it is around Rs 200-Rs 250 this time," said a visibly distressed Waleed. "We had put in advance orders. Given the market situation, I will suffer losses in lakhs."

Also read: Kashmir Dispatch 3 | It’s Peak Season Holiday for 20,000 Outstation Labourers in Valley and They Aren’t Celebrating it

After the deployment of 300 companies of additional paramilitary troops in Kashmir last week, residents of the Valley went into panic mode. The situation turned grim after the government cancelled the annual Amarnath Yatra and asked all pilgrims and tourists to curtail their stay.

Instead of preparing for Eid, residents started to stock up on essential commodities.

While Sunday saw a relaxation in some restrictions in Srinagar, allowing people to move out of their houses, it did not appear to be a normal day in Kashmir, without the usual buzz in markets a day before Eid.

This Eid, no one seems to be celebrating in Kashmir.

Also read: Kashmir Dispatch 4 | With No Means to Reach Out to Families, Patients Struggle Alone in Srinagar Hospital

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| Edited by: Moonmoon Ghosh
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