No relaxation in Kashmir curbs today, likely to be lifted day before Eid
Restriction on movements and gatherings in Jammu and Kashmir will not be lifted for Friday prayers, senior officials who did not want to be named said, adding that “curbs will be released on August 11, a day before Eid -ul Zoha, to allow people to prepare for the festival.”
“We have received no orders to relax the restrictions tomorrow,” a senior CRPF official said. But he added that there were more civilian vehicles out on Thursday in Srinagar.
While the administration is keen to restore normalcy, there is an apprehension that the congregation at Friday prayers could turn violent. “Selectively easing restrictions” in areas where the chances of violence are low is, being “actively considered,” but there is no decision as yet, a second senior official who did not want to be named said.
The Indian Army has also drawn up a list of places where it expects trouble. Among others, these include the districts of Shopian, Pulwama, Anantnag and Sopore according to senior military official.
The Kashmir valley has been under lockdown since Sunday midnight. On Monday, the government moved to bifurcate the state and also scrap articles giving it special status and its permanent residents, special privileges. By Tuesday, both Houses of Parliament had passed the changes.
Isolated incidents of stone-throwing have been reported in the past few days, the officials said. “There have been around five incidents in North Kashmir and two in South Kashmir in the last 48 hours,” a senior official said, adding that there were also some stray incidents in Srinagar on Thursday. ” But, unlike in the past, the group of stone throwers were (made up of) fewer than 25 people.” Importantly, the hinterland is quiet and in places, shops and markets were partially open, a third official who did not want to be named said.
The Union Home Ministry, which is now supervising law and order in the valley, did not officially clarify when restrictions and curbs imposed in the valley are likely to be removed. “There will be security arrangements in place to ensure that Friday prayers take place in a smooth and peaceful manner. The administration will facilitate people,” an MHA official who did not want to be named said.
Earlier on Thursday, National Security Advisor, Ajit Doval reviewed the situation in a meeting held in the Police Control Room of the J&K Police. The NSA has been camping in Kashmir since Monday when the government moved the Parliament to scarp Article 370 and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.
A few landlines and leased line connections of some key government departments were restored today. “More are likely to be restored,” in the next few days, a fourth senior official who asked not to be named said.
In a related development, Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh today said Pakistan is unhappy with the government’s decision to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status but the armed forces were “fully prepared to meet any threat.” The Minister was addressing the Annual General Body meet of the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses in New Delhi. The groundwork for removing Article 370 was “laid during the first Modi government.”
Meanwhile, in Jammu, Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir, B V R Subrahmanyam asked all government employees, working at divisional level, district level and those serving in civil secretariat Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar, to report back to their duties with immediate effect.
“It is further intimated that necessary arrangements regarding smooth and secure working environment for the employees have been made by the administration,” said an official statement.
For any assistance, the employees can contact office of Deputy Commissioner Jammu and Regional Transport Office Jammu at 2571616, 2571912 and 2520542, it added.