August 2019 News

Curbs Reimposed In Srinagar Amid Reports Of Street Protest

11 August 2019
The Hindu
Peerzada Ashiq, Vijaita Singh

Srinagar: Security was tightened and restrictions were reimposed in the Kashmir Valley on the eve of Eid on Sunday, amid reports of 'street mobilisation'. All communication lines, including phones and the Internet, remained snapped for the seventh day and were unlikely to be restored on the occasion of the festival, a top security source said. Srinagar District Magistrate Shahid Choudhury told The Hindu that the administration had a meeting with several Imams (religious heads) to prepare for the festival on Monday. A senior government official said prayers were unlikely to be allowed at Jamia Masjid, one of the biggest mosques, at Nowhatta. This was to prevent any large procession. Asked why the restrictions were reimposed after they were eased on Saturday, Mr. Choudhury said, 'Section 144 of the Cr.PC that prohibits the assembly of more than four people was never completely lifted in the city. The restrictions were always there. Movement of traffic was allowed in some areas.' DGP Dilbagh Singh told The Hindu that no decision was taken on resuming the Internet services in the Valley because authorities suspected 'mischievous posts' would be put out by Pakistan on social media to incite people. 'One odd stone-throwing incident in Srinagar's downtown area does not mean the entire Valley is out to throw stones. It cannot define the security situation in the entire State. The entire State is peaceful. Earlier, stone-throwing incidents were larger in number,' Mr. Singh said. A top police source said former Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah would be allowed to offer Eid prayers at a shrine on Gupkar Road. A congregation prayer would be allowed for other members of political parties such as the National Conference and the Peoples Democratic Party, who were detained at the Sher-i-Kashmir International Convention Centre (SKICC), an official said. Information Commissioner M.K. Dwivedi said restrictions were reimposed to avoid any untoward incident. Sources said there were reports of street mobilisation and stray incidents of stone-throwing in the Old City as people came out to buy essentials for Eid and traffic resumed. By afternoon, the police used the public address system to 'direct people to stay indoors and shut the markets.' Concertina spools were unrolled on many stretches to disallow the movement. Mr. Dwivedi said no political speeches would be allowed on these occasions, and prayers would be allowed in shrines in interior colonies. Around 250 mainstream political leaders and activists have been rounded up since August 5 when Union Home Minister Amit Shah told the Rajya Sabha that Article 370 that accorded special status to Jammu and Kashmir would cease to operate. 'These arrests are not centralised and the exact number may not be revealed. Most detentions have been decided at the district level as per the law and order requirements,' Mr. Dwivedi said. Divisional Commissioner Baseer Khan said around 4,000 calls were made by residents to their relatives outside through government helpline. 'Around Rs 15,000 crore was disbursed in salaries, with Rs 5,000 crore in Srinagar alone, to ensure cash flow,' Mr. Khan said. He said special vegetable markets were arranged in the Valley and 2.5 lakh sheep on hooves were sold. Around 1.5 lakh animals were sold in Srinagar, he said.

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