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Curbs eased but Kashmir markets remain shuttered

Barring a few parts of Old City of Srinagar, restrictions were eased in the rest of the Kashmir Valley though prayers were not allowed in Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid on the sixth consecutive Friday since the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5.

The city, however, continued to wear a deserted look as people preferred to remain indoors, and the traffic was very thin on the roads. On Thursday, government spokesman Rohit Kansal had said that there were no restrictions in any part of the Kashmir Valley.

However a day later, security forces put barricades and concertina wires on the roads leading to Jamia Masjid in Nawhatta, which was closed owing to the restrictions. This is for the sixth consecutive Friday that prayers were not held in the grand mosque where separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is the chief priest.

“Since we were on a scooter, we managed to avoid the road blocks and reached Jamia Masjid through interior link roads where there was a large number of police and CRPF. The gate of the mosque was also locked,” said Shafiq Ahmad, a resident.

From the Nallah Mar side, the security forces laid concertina wires near Mirwaiz Manzil, the heart of Old City, where the forces were asking residents to show identity cards.

However, some residents said they did not face any such issue. “There were a large number of security forces deployed on the roads but they did not stop me while I travelled through Hawal and then main Downtown before reaching Dalgate,” Amin said.

Superintendent of police, North Srinagar (Old City), Sajad Shah said there were “no restrictions in any part of the Old City except Jamia Masjid area”. “The situation remained normal. Except Jamia Masjid, Friday prayers were offered in all other mosques,” Shah said.

A resident, however, said the restrictions were also enforced in areas surrounding Nawhatta. “I was stopped at Eidgah,” said Irfan Ahmad, a resident of Old City.

Kashmir was put under a lockdown and landline as well as mobile internet services were snapped on August 5 when the Centre revoked the special status to Jammu and Kashmir and the split it into two union territories.

Although restrictions have been mostly relaxed and some 44,000 landlines restored since, mobiles [with around 60 lakh subscribers] and internet services continue to be blocked.

Government spokesperson Rohit Kansal announced Thursday there were no restrictions anywhere across Kashmir and all landlines were functioning. “Restrictions lifted from all areas, traffic movement has increased manifold. Landlines fully functional, mobile phones considerably working in Kupwara and Handwara,” he said.

However, he said provocations from across line of control (LoC) were hampering the efforts to bring normalcy to the Valley. “There are tremendous provocations from across LoC which are hampering the restoration of communication services,” Kansal said at a press conference on Thursday. “But this too shall pass,” he added.

First Published:
Sep 14, 2019 00:43 IST

Source: HindustanTimes