SRINAGAR – An unprecedented shutdown completed three months on Saturday in the Kashmir Valley, where people are protesting against scrapping of Article 370 and 35 A, besides downgrading the state and dividing it into two Union Territories (UTs) on August 5.
Restrictions that were reimposed in view of Friday prayers were lifted from all parts of the city on Saturday, but normal life remained affected for 90th day.
“There are no restrictions on movement of people in any part of the valley today. Normal activities are being witnessed across Kashmir,” a police official said.
While Friday prayers were not allowed in the historic Jamia Masjid in old city for 13th week, Khoj-e-Digar — the special afternoon prayer held at the sufi shrine of Naqashband Sahib here — was not allowed on Friday.
It was for the first time that Khoj-e-Digar, which is a centuries-old tradition specific to Kashmiri Muslims, was not allowed in recent memory.
Police, however, said the deployment of security forces continues in vulnerable areas of the city and elsewhere in the valley for maintaining law and order.
Security forces remained on alert to maintain law and order in the valley, where almost all politicians of different political parties, including three former chief ministers — Dr Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti — are under detention since August 5.
There is no curfew in any part of the valley, including summer capital, Srinagar, where civil secretariat, seat of the Lt Governor and senior bureaucrats closed last week to reopen in Jammu, on November 4. However, restrictions under Section 144 CrPC, preventing assemble of four or more persons, remained deployed as a precautionary measure.
The internet service and pre-paid mobile network of all Cellular companies, including Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), remained suspended since August 5 as a precautionary measure in the valley. Train service also remained suspended for the past 90 days in the valley for security reasons.
All gates historic Jamia Masjid in the down town remained closed to prevent assemble of people in the worship place. The Central Paramilitary Forces (CPMFs) remained deployed in the Jamia market and outside the Masjid, where no prayers, including on Fridays, were held since August 5.
Business and other activities resumed in most parts of Srinagar, including historic Lal Chowk and Gantaghar this morning at 0700 hrs. Traffic jam was also witnessed at some places in the morning.
However, life again came to halt at 1000 hrs when shopkeepers closed their establishments and left for home. Work in government offices and banks, housed in buildings on main roads was affected. In some areas, banks are function in the morning for few hours before closing down again. Most Post offices in Srinagar and its outskirts are functioning for few hours in the morning.
Transport service, including the buses of State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) buses, remained off the roads. Private vehicles and three wheelers were also seen plying on different routes, particularly in the uptown and civil lines. However, very less number of vehicles were seen plying in the down town.
Shops and business establishments remained closed in this and other district and tehsil headquarters of south Kashmir on Saturday, a report from Anantnag said. However, private vehicles were seen plying on the roads but passenger traffic remained off the roads. Complete shutdown also continued in south Kashmir district of Kulgam.
A report from Baramulla said that business and other activities remained crippled since August 5 in this and other north Kashmir districts. Traffic was off the roads though some vehicles were seen plying on Srinagar-Uri highway. Additional security forces have been deployed on bridges, connecting down town with civil lines in Baramulla and Sopore towns to foil any demonstration.
Similar reports were also received from central Kashmir districts of Ganderbal and Budgam.