India may relax lockdown in occupied Kashmir for Eid

Updated August 08, 2019

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Indian army soldiers guard during restrictions in occupied Kashmir on Monday. — AP/File
Indian army soldiers guard during restrictions in occupied Kashmir on Monday. — AP/File

NEW DELHI: Eid, which falls on Monday, according to the Indian administration, could see some relaxation in the military-enforced lockdown in Srinagar and possibly other parts of India-held Kashmir, News18 TV channel reported on Wednesday.

“The government is considering relaxing restrictions in the Kashmir Valley on the eve of Baqrid [Eidul Azha],” sources told News 18. Accordingly, the local administration has already started working out a “roster for relaxation of prohibitory orders”.

What kind of an Eid would it be for Kashmir’s Muslims though? And would they be celebrating it at all remains a moot point. It would for the first time in a week that the residents of the traumatised state would be face to face with the reality that their lives have been turned upside down.

The outside world too would get to have a glimpse of the reality beyond the concertina wires, some with apprehension, many with sympathy, for the Kashmiri people.

How would the Kashmiris respond to their new reality? They might not even believe at first that the solemn pact the Indian state wooed them with decades ago with the promise to protect their unique political and cultural rights, stood shredded without notice.

The lockdown was clamped on Sunday night to prevent the people in the state from gathering in groups, at best of times a security proposition in the Occupied Valley.

“The local administration is extremely sensitive about Eid and its importance for people. Steps will be taken to ensure people can celebrate their festival,” a government official told News18.

It was otherwise believed that the severe measures would be in place at least until Aug 15, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to showcase his singular achievement from the Mughal-era Red Fort.

If the Eid reprieve is indeed given, it could only be a brief window, as Indian security forces routinely put the state under curfew on India’s Independence Day.

It is not clear whether the incarcerated Kashmiri leaders, including those close to India and those opposed to Delhi’s rule, would also be freed to celebrate Eid. Three former chief ministers and all the leading members of Hurriyat Conference are currently in prison or under house arrest.

The TV channel quoted high-level sources as saying that National Security Adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval is reviewing security arrangements on an hourly basis. So far, the only “minor incidents” are said to have taken place in the Valley where prohibitory orders were imposed on Sunday night.

Reports say Mr Doval reached the Valley on Monday to handle the situation on ground. On Wednesday, he reviewed the security apparatus in Shopian along with senior officers concerned.

News18 said the NSA is also keen to ensure that “common people do not face any hardship and essential food supplies, emergency assistance and provisions should be made available on a priority basis.”

Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2019