Day 61: Uncertainty Lingers On In Kashmir


A deserted view of business hub Lal Chowk in Srinagar amid Shutdown.

SRINAGAR – Normal life remained affected in Kashmir for the 61st consecutive day on Friday as main markets were shut and public transport was off the roads, officials said.

For the 9th consecutive Friday, the administration didn’t allow the congregational prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar.

Official sources said that restrictions under section 144 CrPc remained imposed in downtown and other parts of Srinagar today to prevent protests after Friday prayers.

However, the situation was entirely different on the ground, as all gates leading to Jamia masjid remained closed and people were not allowed to enter the worship place. Hundreds of security forces have been deployed in and around the historic mosque to prevent assembly of people.

Meanwhile, roads leading to Jamia masjid were open for vehicular and pedestrian movement though security forces remained deployed in strength to prevent protests. “Friday prayers were not allowed for the ninth successive week in Jamia masjid. We haven’t heard aazan (call for prayers) from the historic mosque for over two months and it is disheartening,” said a resident of Nowhatta.

Elsewhere in the city, few shops were open from 7:30 to 11:00 am, but downed their shutters afterwards, the officials said.

However, there were no restrictions anywhere in the valley, but security forces were deployed in strength in vulnerable areas to maintain “law and order”, they said.

They said auto-rickshaws and few inter-district cabs were seen plying here, but the other modes of public transport were off the roads.

The movement of private cars was lesser on Friday as compared to Thursday, they added.

Mobile services remained suspended in Kashmir in the north, while internet services — across all platforms continued to be snapped in the valley since the night of August 4, officials said.

The functioning of schools in Kashmir has remained affected since August 5 when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and to bifurcate the state into two Union territories.

The officials said the state government was trying its best to have normal functioning in schools, but its efforts failed again on Thursday as most parents continued to keep children at home due to apprehensions about their safety.

Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Baseer Khan had on Monday directed all Deputy Commissioners and concerned officers to ensure that all government schools as well as private institutions up to Higher Secondary level of the valley be open by Thursday and Colleges to open by or before October 9.

Most of the top level and second rung separatist politicians have been taken into preventive custody while mainstream leaders, including two former chief ministers — Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been either detained or placed under house arrest.

Another former chief minister and sitting Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar Farooq Abdullah has been arrested under the controversial Public Safety act, a law enacted by his father and National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1978 when he was the chief minister.

Lt Gen Singh was appraised of increased ceasefire violations by Pakistan since August 5, especially targeting of civilian population, they said.

The Army Commander was briefed about the swift and effective counter measures being taken by the formation. He was also briefed on the counter infiltration actions taken through superior and aggressive domination of the LoC, the officials said.

Lt Gen Singh also visited Counter Insurgency Force (Delta) where he was briefed about the recent successful encounter at Batote in which three hardcore terrorists of Hizbul Mujahideen were killed, they said.

The Army Commander awarded on the spot commendation to three soldiers for their gallant action during operation Tri Shakti at Batote on September 28, they said.

He complimented the formation for the admirable work being done both at the LOC and the hinterland. He was also appreciative of the synergy between security forces and the civil administration in maintaining a peaceful and conducive environment in the area of responsibility, the officials said.

The Army Commander also appreciated the “MissionReachOut” initiative wherein the local populace in various areas of the White Knight Corps Zone are being provisioned amenities, medical assistance and connectivity, they said.

He interacted with the troops and complimented them for their unwavering devotion to duty and high standard of professionalism. He exhorted all ranks on the need to remain vigilant to counter the nefarious designs of the adversary and directed that the response should be strong and effective, the officials said.

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