Kashmir Locked Down On August 5 Anniversary 

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KO Photo: Abid Bhat

Srinagar: Restrictions were enforced in the Kashmir valley a day ahead of the first anniversary of revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir which has not been accepted by almost all regional parties with the National Conference dubbing it as a “day of mourning”.

The Srinagar administration, which had announced a 48-hour-long curfew beginning Tuesday morning, issued a fresh order in the evening saying the curfew had been lifted as the day remained incident free but made it clear that restrictions would continue in view of a spike in COVID-19 cases.

An order was issued by Deputy Commissioner Shahid Choudhury on Tuesday saying that after assessing the situation in the area, it has been decided to prematurely end the curfew which was slated to continue till Wednesday night.

The order, however, states that restrictions ordered earlier under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code and the Disaster Management Act, in view of the prevailing situation due to COVID-19, will remain enforced across the district as directed through an order issued on July 31.

Choudhury said avoiding public gatherings is an important part of the efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and urged the general public to ensure strict compliance with all preventive guidelines and protocols that the government has issued in regard to it.

He has directed for strict adherence to the restrictions as ordered.

Curfew was imposed in Srinagar for two days, beginning Tuesday, as authorities apprehended violent protests in view of plans of separatists and Pakistan-sponsored groups to observe August 5 as black day.

Police and CRPF personnel have been deployed in strength across the Valley to ensure that the plans of separatists to disturb peace do not succeed, officials said.

In other districts, the administration has imposed strict restrictions on the movement of people over the next two days. The reason given by the authorities for these restrictions was containment of COVID-19 infection.

Barricades were set up at hundreds of places in the Valley including Srinagar city to regulate movement of essential services and during emergencies while concertina wires have been laid to block some parts of the roads, the officials said.

Meanwhile, political parties in Kashmir have maintained that constitutional changes affected last year in respect of Jammu and Kashmir were not acceptable to the people.

National Conference spokesperson Imran Dar said the party will mark August 5 as the “day of mourning” and said his party would continue to fight for the people’s rights constitutionally and legally.

“Although the people of JK have been at the receiving end, we don’t want to put them through added trepidation. Our struggle has always been peaceful, we will continue with that proclivity of ours until our rights are restored,” he said.

Dar said August 5 is “the darkest patch in the history of Jammu and Kashmir marking the forcible, illegal and unconstitutional infringement of the rights of its people” and added that actions of last year were betrayal and breach of faith.

He said the measures have destroyed the space for mainstream leaders in J&K and ditched their cause “which they have nurtured with their blood over the years”.

Jammu and Kashmir Peoples Conference said the decision of the Union government to revoke special status of the erstwhile state was not acceptable to the people.

“Decisions taken on and after August 5 (2019) are not acceptable to people. These decisions have been thrust on the people of Kashmir and are bereft of any acceptance or legitimacy amongst the masses,” Peoples Conference said in a statement.

CPI(M) leader Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami said all the promises made by the Centre at the time of abrogating article 370 last year proved to be a mirage.

“It has been a year since the BJP government scrapped J&K’s special status under Article 370, 35A, demoted the erstwhile state into two Union Territories. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah justified the decision on the floor of the house saying it would end decades-long militancy, separatism and corruption in the region and bring development, jobs and prosperity.

“However, one year down the line, promises proved to be a mirage and the claims a hoax. None of the aforementioned claims pass the test of reality,” Tarigami said in a statement issued Tuesday. (with PTI inputs)

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