After Kashmir Curfew Eased, People Offer Friday Prayers as Security Forces Remain on High Alert
The authorities will monitor the law and order situation in the Kashmir Valley on Friday to decide on further easing of restrictions for Eid on Monday.
Security forces personnel stand guard next to concertina wire laid across a road during restrictions after the government scrapped special status for Kashmir, in Srinagar on August 9, 2019.
Srinagar: Restrictions were eased to allow people in Kashmir 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.
The decision to ease the restrictions was taken after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval directed authorities to ensure that no Kashmiris were harassed, they said.
Security forces have been put on high alert across the Kashmir Valley preempting possible protests against the scrapping of special status to Jammu and Kashmir and dividing it into two union territories, another set of officials said.
The decision was taken as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order, a day after restrictions in some parts of the civil lines areas of the city and Dal Lake were relaxed to allow free movement of people, they said.
"In view of expected gathering of people at mosques for Friday prayers, there is apprehension of mass protests and accordingly necessary steps were taken to ensure peace," a security official said earlier in the day.
He said the restrictions under prohibitory orders, which are in place, are being implemented strictly especially in sensitive localities and trouble-prone areas.
After being confined to their homes for days, people in Kashmir offered Friday prayers in their local mosques. An official said that the Valley was largely peaceful, barring minor incidents of stone-pelting in the apple-town of Sopore in north Kashmir.
People 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 arrive.
The officials said there were minor incidents of stone-pelting in Sopore town of north Kashmir, 50 km from here, but was contained immediately and the crowd dispersed.
Doval, who has been camping here since Tuesday, spoke to locals and security personnel during a quick tour of the sensitive downtown area here on Friday, an official said. The NSA, accompanied by his aides and senior police officers, visited the Eidgah locality and stopped at various places to interact with locals. He later spoke to police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and thanked them for their wonderful work in maintaining law and order.
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 metres 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 state-run Doordarshan, can be accessed through cable TV networks.
While the officials are maintaining that the situation in Kashmir is "comfortable", sporadic incidents of small groups of youth throwing stones at security forces have taken place in many parts of the city including Bagh-e-Mehtab, Natipora, Rambagh, Barzulla, Noorbagh and Bemina.
One person has reportedly died due to drowning in Noorbagh area of the city after he was chased by forces during protests there. Local residents 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.
During easing of restrictions in some parts of the city especially in civil line areas on Thursday, the movement of the people remained thin, while a few shops mostly selling vegetables and medicines opened.
Some stone-pelting incidents were also reported at a few places but the mobs were chased away by police and paramilitary personnel, the officials said.
(With inputs from PTI)
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