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No festive spirit in valley

Etched in the memory of Kashmir will be the Eid of 2016. The turmoil that started in the valley in July this year continues but this festive occasion has given it an astounding turn. 

For the first time since the outbreak of militancy, authorities on Tuesday imposed curfew in all 10 districts of the Kashmir Valley. Helicopters and drones are pressed into service for surveillance, apart from the army which is stationed on standby. As a preventive measure, fearing post-prayer protests, authorities in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday sealed all roads leading to Hazratbal shrine and Jamia Masjid in Srinagar to prevent big Eid congregations. Telecom services have been ordered to shut down with immediate effect for 72 hours. The state-run BSNL, too, has been asked to stop its broadband services for the Internet. However, post-paid BSNL connections, which are mainly used by police, army, and government officials, have been kept out of the purview of the ban. The cross-Line of Control (LoC) bus service, “Carvan-e-Aman”, between Srinagar and Muzaffarabad was also suspended on Monday. 

According to a report in Kashmir-based daily, Greater Kashmir, people offered Eid prayers on roadside as a mark of protest against disallowing people from other areas to join the congregational prayers at the central shrine in Hazratbal. After prayers, protests were also held in the locality.  Resistance leadership has asked people to march towards the UN office in Sonawar today after Eid prayers to demand resolution of the Kashmir issue. 

Meanwhile, the Chief of Jama'at-ud-Da'wah Hafiz Saeed released a new video ahead of Eid al-Adha provoking Kashmiris to stand behind Hurriyat leadership. In the recent video, co-founder of Lashkar-e-Taiba extended his greetings to Muslims around the world and applauded struggle of Kashmiri people. "As preparations are being made for Eid Ul Adha, we send out greetings to Muslims around the world. We give out special greetings and applause to Kashmiri people for their glorious struggle that has reached unprecedented heights due to their sacrifices," Saeed said. “At a time when people around the world will sacrifice animals on Eid, the people of Kashmir sacrificed their beloved sons. Who wouldn't praise Kashmiri people, who despite losing eyes, facing injuries saw their women and men together in the freedom movement. Nothing short of freedom is acceptable to the Kashmiri people, they are not ready for any compromise, whatsoever. They are rendering all kinds of sacrifices for Freedom today," he added. 

Clearly, the opportunity to further stoke the unrest has been seized. Opposition National Conference slammed the government for its decision to impose curfew, saying it vindicated the party’s claim that the Mehbooba Mufti government had no control over the situation. “The PDP always loves to compare the situation with 2010 agitation but never ever has there been a curfew on auspicious occasion like Eid before,” the National Conference spokesman said

Clearly, there is barely any festivity on this occasion. The unrest in the valley sparked after the killing of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani continues for the second month. The ongoing curfew has had tremendous impact on the lives of the local people. The education of children suffers as most schools have not reopened. These two months of curfew have also taken their toll on the local vendors making them suffer economically.  Despite the disruption of normal life in Kashmir for the past weeks, there seems to be no concrete solution in sight. In the garb of preventive measures, this occurrence is nothing short of violation of fundamental right to freedom to practice a religion. This incidence is also a blemish on the Indian ideal of secularism as it is virtually a refusal to allow certain religious practices on a big occasion. 
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