Lockdown continues as life remains paralysed in Kashmir

A view of a deserted street during restrictions at Lal Chowk in Srinagar. (PTI Photo/S. Irfan)

Uneasy calm prevailed in Kashmir on Friday as strict curfew and information blockade continued for fifth consecutive day.
Reports said normal life remained paralysed across Kashmir with people locked inside their homes. From Sunday night the authorities snapped internet, mobile connectivity and local cable television networks, putting the Valley into a total information blackout.

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Fearing protests after Friday prayers, authorities stepped up security further in old city Srinagar and other volatile areas of the Valley. No Friday congregation prayers were allowed at historical Jamia Masjid in the old city and bigger masjids in the Valley. However, in smaller masjids, the Friday prayers were held across Kashmir, reports said.
Reports coming from volatile south Kashmir districts of Shopian, Kulgam, Anantnag and Pulwama suggested that the region was under a thick security blanket.
Reports of stray incidents of stone pelting continue to pour in with unconfirmed reports of some causalities also. However, police did not confirm any deaths so far. A police official said except for minor stone pelting incidents, overall situation across the Kashmir remained under control since Monday.
“If situation remains under control, in all likelihood some relaxation will be given in curfew ahead of Eid on Monday,” he said and added landline phones may also be restored depending upon the situation.
As hundreds of political activists have been arrested in the last few days, there is panic across the Valley with second rung leaders of mainstream political parties fearing they too may be put behind the bars.
“It seems New Delhi has declared an emergency in Kashmir. Former chief ministers have been arrested and what more can you expect,” a National Conference (NC) activist told DH.
“We always believed in the constitution of the country and today we are being treated like enemies of the country. New Delhi has created a ‘devil and deep sea’ like situation for us. People in Kashmir hold us responsible for present situation while New Delhi has started a crackdown against mainstream camp,” he rued.
Nearly a hundred activists of separatist organisations and incarcerated militants have been shifted to outside state jails in the last few days, reports said. Most of the former legislators in Kashmir have been placed under house arrest while moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has been shifted to Srinagar Central Jail.
This is for the first time that Mirwaiz Umar has been sent to Jail. Though during the unrests of 2008, 2010 and 2016, Mirwaiz, who is also a religious cleric, was detained, he had been kept in a government guest house at Cheshma Shai in Srinagar instead of jail.
In Jammu also top leaders of Congress and the NC have been placed under house arrest. Congress leaders and former ministers, Tara Chand, Raman Bhalla and others remain under house arrest while  NC leader and former MLA Devender Singh Rana too has been confined to his house in Gandhi Nagar, Jammu.

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