Day 55: Restrictions continue in parts of Kashmir

Kashmir security restrictions
Security personnel stand guard at a check point during restrictions in Srinagar. (PTI Photo)

Kashmir continues to be under lockdown, as the shutdown in the Valley intensified with markets closed and public transport off the roads for the 55th consecutive day, officials said.

Security has been strengthened in other areas and barricades and razor wires were put in place, they added.

While the officials remained tight-lipped, there were reports of late-night protests in many parts of the Valley on Friday night soon after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khans address to the UN General Assembly.

Sloganeering by protesters could be heard on public address systems of mosques in several parts of Kashmir on Friday night.

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The effect of the protests was visible on Saturday morning as the shutdown intensified.

There was lesser movement of private cars and most shops did not open in the early morning hours, a routine that had become new normal in the city for the past couple of weeks, the officials said.

They said public transport was off the roads while most of the vendors also stayed away from the market.

Mobile services remained suspended in Kashmir, except in Handwara and Kupwara areas of the north, while internet services – across all platforms continued to be snapped in the Valley for the 55th consecutive day, they added.

Authorities had reimposed restrictions in parts of Kashmir on Friday as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of the congregational prayers.

Restrictions were first imposed across Kashmir on August 5 when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate the state into union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh.

The restrictions were lifted in phases from many parts of the Valley as the situation improved with time.

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However, authorities have been imposing restrictions in vulnerable areas of the Valley every Friday, apprehending that vested interests might exploit the large gatherings at big mosques and shrines to fuel protests.

Friday prayers have not been allowed at any of the major mosques or shrines in the Valley for the past one month now.

Most of the top-level and second-rung separatist politicians have been taken into preventive custody while mainstream leaders, including two former chief ministers — Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been either detained or placed under house arrest.

Another former chief minister and sitting Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar Farooq Abdullah has now been detained under the controversial Public Safety Act, which enables authorities to detain any individual for two years without trial.

(With inputs from agencies)