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Eid in Kashmir: India bans large congregations

Published: August 12, 2019 16:08:17 | Updated: August 12, 2019 19:30:55


 

Large congregations have been banned for the major Islamic festival of Eid in Indian-administered Kashmir, where an unprecedented communications block on landlines, mobile and the internet remained in place for an eighth day.

Residents have been allowed to visit their local mosque, according to Indian officials, but the communications block means they have been unable to call relatives.

Large congregations were banned in an apparent attempt to avoid anti-India protests.

Earlier, the state administration held a meeting with local clerics to oversee prayer arrangements and ensure peaceful celebrations.

On Sunday, a meeting was held between clerics and the Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Baseer Khan, Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) Swayam Prakash Pani and Srinagar District Magistrate Shahid Choudhary to ensure a peaceful and smooth Eid.

Indian troops clamped tight restrictions on mosques across Kashmir for Eid al-Adha festival, fearing anti-government protests over the stripping of the Muslim-majority region's autonomy, according to residents.

The Himalayan region's biggest mosque, the Jama Masjid, was ordered closed and people were only allowed to pray in smaller local mosques so that no big crowds could gather, witnesses said.

Kashmir has been in a security lockdown for eight days as the Hindu nationalist government in New Delhi seeks to snuff out opposition to its move to impose tighter central control over the region.

A spokesperson for the Indian home affairs ministry said prayers had gone ahead peacefully in all local mosques in Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam and Bandipore “without any untoward incident”.

India’s foreign ministry shared photos of people visiting mosques, but a spokesman was not able to specify where the photos were taken within Jammu and Kashmir, which New Delhi downgraded from a state to two federal territories a week ago.

The Kashmir police chief, Dilbagh Singh, said people “have been asked to offer prayers locally”. Shanawaz Shah, a local resident, told AFP: “I can’t believe we are forced to be in our homes on this festival. This is the festival of joy and happiness.”

There is very little independent information about what is happening in Kashmir because of the communication blackout. Tens of thousands of troop reinforcements have flooded the main city of Srinagar and other Kashmir towns and villages.

Kashmir curfew eased in Srinagar but blackout remains

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