Kashmir wore a festive look on the eve of Eid-ul-Fitr, a Muslim festival that marks the end of a month-long fasting, on Thursday as the government geared up to manage huge congregational prayers after separatists call for joint prayers.
Tens of thousands of shoppers converged at the commercial hubs in Srinagar and other towns to shop for the festival.
The government said it was planning for the biggest congregational prayers at Srinagar's Hazratbal shrine, where mainstream leaders, including chief minister Omar Abdullah, prefer to pray. The shrine management has traditionally been close to the ruling National Conference.
"According to a notification of the J&K Board for Specified Wakfs and Wakf Properties, the biggest congregation of Eid prayers will be held at Hazratbal at 10 am," said a government communiqué.
However, moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has asked people to pray at the old city's Eidgah area to make it the biggest congregational prayers on the occasion.
On several Eid occasions in the past, the Mirwaiz was not allowed to pray by the authorities. In 2010, the Mirwaiz led a procession from the old city to the uptown, which resulted in major clashes between devotees and the security forces.
Moderate Hurriyat constituent National Front's chairman Nayeem Khan said, "I had been put under house arrest since Wednesday. A heavy contingent of police is outside my house. It is not only against all universal principles of human rights and democracy but is outrageous. We are deprived even of that basic sacred religious right," said Khan.
There were reports that hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Geelani, too, has been placed under house arrest.
Kashmir divisional commissioner Shalinder Kumar clarified that "there won't be any kind of restrictions on Eid".
"In case need arises, appropriate steps would be taken to maintain peace in the city," he said.
Geelani has called for peaceful protests after Eid prayers against the human rights violations, hanging of Afzal Guru and detention of separatist supporters. Geelani, too, is scheduled to offer Eid prayers at Hazratbal, where many mainstream leaders are likely to participate.
"Let this Eid be our last in India's slavery. Let's offer special prayers for martyrs and reaffirm their faith with ongoing freedom movement," said Geelani.
Ironically, the authorities have finalised all arrangements for the Eidgah congregation, likely to be attended by moderate Hurriyat leaders.
"The authorities are directed to ensure adequate water and power supply during the prayer time at Eidgah," said local MLA and speaker Mubarak Gul.
The chief minister, in his Eid message, said, "The essence of Eid is to address the needs of poor and share Eid-bliss with them. I pray for peace and prosperity."