J&K: Restrictions eased for Friday prayers, strict instructions not to harass people
Srinagar, Aug 09: There has been an ease in restrictions ahead of the Friday prayers in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Director General of Police, Dilbag Singh said that people are being allowed to pray within their neighbourhood, but should not venture out of their local area. The
Friday prayers at the Jama Masjid will not be observed as the gates remain shut.
The decision to ease the restrictions was taken after National Security Advisor Ajit Doval directed authorities to ensure that no Kashmiris were harassed, they said.
Security forces have been put on high alert across the Kashmir Valley preempting possible protests against the scrapping of special status to Jammu and Kashmir and dividing it into two union territories, another set of officials said.
The decision was taken as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order, a day after restrictions in some parts of the civil lines areas of the city and Dal Lake were relaxed to allow free movement of people, they said.
"In view of expected gathering of people at mosques for Friday prayers, there is apprehension of mass protests and accordingly necessary steps were taken to ensure peace," a security official said earlier in the day.
Security forces have been deployed in massive numbers across the Valley, particularly in Srinagar city and major towns, and barricades have been erected every 100 metres and only people allowed to pass are those with medical emergencies.
All telephone and internet connections have been snapped in the Valley and only three news channels, including state-run Doordarshan, can be accessed through cable TV networks.
While the officials are maintaining that the situation in Kashmir is "comfortable", sporadic incidents of small groups of youth throwing stones at security forces have taken place in many parts of the city including Bagh-e-Mehtab, Natipora, Rambagh, Barzulla, Noorbagh and Bemina.
One person has reportedly died due to drowning in Noorbagh area of the city after he was chased by forces during protests there. Local residents had stocked up essentials like food grains, fuel and medicines in the run-up to the Monday's announcement by the Home Minister Amit Shah in the Rajya Sabha.
Meanwhile CPI (M) leader, Sitaram Yechury and D Raja were detained at the Srinagar Airport and his movement has been curtailed.
Sitaram Yechury has being detained at Srinagar Airport and not allowed to move anywhere. This despite the fact that he had informed the administration about his visit to meet CPIM MLA MY Tarigami who is not well & other party workers.
We strongly protest this illegal detention, the CPI (M) said in a tweet.
Heavy security has been place as the government is anticipating trouble in the wake of Article 370 being scrapped and Jammu and Kashmir being divided into two Union Territories, the other being Ladakh.
An assessment of the situation would be available tomorrow after Friday prayers. National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval has been in the Valley assessing the situation. He has held a series of meetings and even interacted with locals and security forces on Wednesday.
Sources say that the curfew may be relaxed in some areas. However Section 144 would remain in place. However it is clear that internet and mobile services will not be restored.
On Wednesday, Doval reached out to civilians in Jammu and Kashmir. A video of the NSA which was shot just before the presidential order that defanged Section 370 shows his speaking with the locals and explaining how this move would benefit them in the long run.