Srinagar, Sep 27: Fresh restrictions were imposed in parts of Kashmir on Friday to maintain law and order in view of congregational prayers, even markets in the valley remained shut and public transport was off the roads for the 54th day, officials said.
Restrictions under Section 144 CrPc were imposed on Friday morning in various parts of the valley, the officials said.
They said the curbs were imposed in five police station areas of Nowhatta, Rainawari, Safakadal, Khanyar and Maharaj Gunj in downtown (interior areas) and in Hazratbal zone in Srinagar.
The restrictions were also imposed in Ganderbal, Anantnag, Awantipora, Sopore and Handwara towns of the valley, the officials added.
The authorities also sealed the Lal Chowk city centre the commercial hub of the city by placing barricades and concertina wires on all entry and exit points leading to the area, they said.
The officials said the curbs were imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of the Friday congregational prayers.
Restrictions were first imposed across the Kashmir on 5 August when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate the state into two Union territories. The restrictions were lifted in phases from many parts of the valley as the situation improved with passage of time.
However, the 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.
Meanwhile, normal life remained affected in Kashmir as main markets and other business establishments continued to remain closed for the 54th consecutive day on Friday, the officials said.
Public transport was off the roads and the movement of private cars was also lesser than Thursday, they said.
Mobile services remained suspended in Kashmir except in Handwara and Kupwara areas in the north, while Internet services — across all platforms continued to be snapped in the valley, they added.
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 been arrested under the controversial Public Safety Act.
Three Kashmiri politicians released from detention
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Thursday released three politicians who were under detention since August 5 when the Centre abrogated the special status granted to the state under the Constitution, officials said.
Yawar Mir, Noor Mohammed and Shoiab Lone were released on various grounds, the officials said, explaining the reasons for ending their detention.
While Mir is a former PDA MLA from the Rafiabad Assembly seat, Lone contested unsuccessfully on a Congress ticket from north Kashmir and later resigned as district president of the party.
Noor Mohammed is a National Conference worker who has been managing the party’s show in the militancy-infested Batmaloo area of the Srinagar city.
Before his release, he will be signing a bond to maintain peace and good behaviour, the officials said on Wednesday night.
The administration had earlier released Imran Ansari of the People’s Conference and Syed Akhoon on the grounds of health on September 21.
More than a thousand people, including politicians, separatists, activists and lawyers, were detained after the August 5 move of the central government to abrogate the state’s special status.
The detainees include three former chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti.
Over 250 people were sent to the jails outside Jammu and Kashmir.
Farooq Abdullah was subsequently detained under the stringent Public Safety Act, while other politicians were mostly detained under different sections of the criminal procedure code.
JK Admin withdraws security advisory for tourists
The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Thursday withdrawn the security advisory for tourists visiting the valley state. The administration also assured tourists of providing all kinds of assistance and logistic support.
“Security advisory requesting tourists visiting J&K to curtail their stay in the Kashmir valley, is hereby withdrawn. Tourists desirous of undertaking visiting to the state shall be provided all necessary assistance & logistical support,” it said in a statement.
The move comes two days after Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik asked for lifting of the two-month-old advisory which had asked tourists to leave the valley.
The governor had directed officials to withdraw the advisory with effect from October 10. The advisory was issued on August 2, days before Article 370 was revoked.
JK Congress to boycott BDC polls
The Congress on Wednesday decided to boycott the Block Development Council (BDC) elections in Jammu and Kashmir, citing “indifferent” attitude of the state administration and continued detention of senior party leaders.
The BDC polls is scheduled to be held in Jammu and Kashmir on October 24. These will be the first elections to be held in the state since its special status was revoked under Article 370 on August 5.
“The Congress believes in strengthening of democratic institutions and never shied away from any polls. But today, we are compelled to take a decision to boycott BDC polls due to indifferent attitude of the state administration and continued detention of senior party leaders in the valley,” state Congress president G.A. Mir told reporters in Jammu.
Mir, who was himself under house arrest in Jammu and was recently released, charged that the state administration deliberately created hurdles for mainstream parties in order to facilitate the win of the ruling BJP.
“They have kept leaders and cadres under detention and did not allow the political atmosphere and political activity to take place and the Congress was deliberately targeted in this exercise,” the PCC leader charged.
Despite expressing its reservation on the timing of the polls and ongoing security situation, the Congress along with the National Panthers party had last week decided to take part in the BDC elections.
Mir said the Congress had approached the State Election Commission to facilitate smooth movement of its leaders after deciding to take part in the exercise.
“We had issued letters to candidates for taking part in BDC polls so that we could contribute to the democratic exercise and some of our candidates also filed their nominations,” he said.
However, since today was the last day for filing of nomination papers by candidates, “we have decided to stay away from polls which should have been deferred taking into consideration the prevailing situation in the state as was demanded by all opposition political parties.”
Mainstream political leaders in the valley, including former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been either detained or placed under house arrest since the government announced dilution of provisions of Article 370 over two months ago.
The state administration said last week that political leaders under house arrest in Kashmir will be released in a phased manner after proper analysis of every individual.