Quiet Eid in Kashmir, people offer prayers at local mosques amid tight security



Quiet Eid in Kashmir, people offer prayers at local mosques amid tight security

Some markets, banks and ATMs remained open on Sunday, with the state administration saying it was taking steps to facilitate the availability of essentials and for people to offer prayers at mosques on Monday.

INDIA Updated: Aug 12, 2019 11:12 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Hindustan Times, Srinagar/Jammu
People offered namaz in the morning at Mohalla mosques in various parts of Srinagar on Eid on Monday.
People offered namaz in the morning at Mohalla mosques in various parts of Srinagar on Eid on Monday. (ANI Photo)

People in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday marked Eid al-Adha or Bakrid amid massive security scale-up and continuous communication blackout after its special status was revoked last week.

People could be seen flocking to local mosques to offer prayers in small groups. Large groups of people were not allowed to assemble and traffic restrictions were also in place, reports ANI.

Senior state administrative and police officials — divisional commissioner Baseer Khan, inspector general of police Swayam Prakash Pani and Srinagar’s district magistrate Shahid Choudhary — held a meeting with local clerics on Sunday to oversee prayer arrangements and ensure peaceful celebrations.

Choudhary had posted on Twitter on Sunday, saying he visited some of the mosques and grounds where prayers are being offered.


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SRINAGAR: People offered namaz in the morning at Mohalla mosques on , today; J&K police officials greet people outside a neighbourhood mosque

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“I am conscious of the fact it needs a lot more for a normal and enjoyable Eid. We are trying to reduce inconveniencies and ease facilities. Just had an elaborate meeting with Imaams for prayer arrangements. Visited venues (sic),” he tweeted along with photographs from the meeting.

The bureaucrat also said that more than 250 ATMs have been made functional in Srinagar and bank branches were also open.

Baseer Khan said the administration was doing everything to ensure a peaceful Eid.

Authorities had on Sunday eased the restrictions put in place before the Narendra Modi-led central government in some areas on Sunday to facilitate preparations for the festival, officials said.

“The situation in the state has remained normal so far. No untoward incident has been reported from anywhere so far,” said a tweet by the official handle of the J-K police on Sunday.

At least two reports said that security was stepped up in some parts of Srinagar on Sunday. Television news channel NDTV said police vehicles were seen making announcements asking people to return to their homes. News agency Reuters said its reporter saw a police van driving around one part of Srinagar announcing that restrictions had been imposed again after being relaxed earlier in the day.

There was, however, no official confirmation on the restrictions being reimposed in the city.

Authorities said that while there were reports of sporadic protests, no violence was reported anywhere in the Valley.

“Everything is peaceful. The restrictions have eased and there has been a lot of improvement in public and transport movement,” Choudhary said.

In Jammu, life appeared to be returning to normal as restrictions under section 144 of CrPc were completely lifted in five districts. In the other five districts, restrictions were relaxed to facilitate Eid preparations, according to an official who did not wish to be named.

Magistrates have been deployed at critical spots to act as facilitators for the convenience of the general public, an official statement said. Jammu and Kashmir governor’s administration issued an advisory saying that 300 special telephone booths were being established to help people communicate with their kin.

The district administrations were constantly reviewing the situation in Jammu and Kashmir and they would facilitate people to offer prayers at mosques during Eid, an official told PTI, asking not to be named.

Last Friday, people were allowed to visit neighbourhood mosques and offer prayers there. However, large gatherings were not allowed in any part of the Valley.

“The government is conscious of the ground situation and doing utmost so that there is a minimum inconvenience to the people. Every day something or the other restrictions are relaxed. We will take decisions on lifting restrictions on phones as early as possible,” the official added.

District magistrates have made arrangements for Eid-ul-Azha, the official statement said, adding that treasuries, banks and ATMs were made functional even on a holiday in the run-up to the festival.

Authorities in Srinagar said there have been sporadic instances of stone-pelting by protesters but no gun firing by security forces in the past six days. Television images showed cars and people moving in some parts of Kashmir.

All India Radio quoted chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam as saying that people were coming out of their homes for Eid shopping.

Union minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy said on Saturday he hoped prohibitory orders would be “fully peaceful in the coming 10-15 days”.

While officials said that the Valley remained peaceful, Eid festivities largely remained missing on the streets on Sunday.

“Earlier, Eid used to be celebrated with great fervour. This time, very few people are on the streets and people are not buying things like previous years,” said Gowhar Ahmad, a resident of the old city.

“Though restrictions were eased in the morning, most shops didn’t open despite Eid,” said Fayaz Ahmad, owner of a readymade clothes store at Srinagar’s Regal Chowk.

Restrictions were imposed in Jammu and Kashmir to prevent security threats as Parliament effectively revoked Article 370 last week, ending the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, and passed a bill bifurcating it into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh. All communication links have been disrupted since August 5, after the Centre’s decision on Article 370.

The move triggered protests by some opposition parties that alleged the government had carried out the preparation for the move under a veil of secrecy.

First Published: Aug 11, 2019 23:53 IST

No relaxation in Kashmir curbs today, likely to be lifted day before Eid



No relaxation in Kashmir curbs today, likely to be lifted day before Eid

While the administration is keen to restore normalcy, there is an apprehension that the congregation at Friday prayers could turn violent.

INDIA Updated: Aug 09, 2019 16:56 IST

Sudhi Ranjan Sen
Sudhi Ranjan Sen

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A security force personnel patrols a deserted road during restrictions in Srinagar.
A security force personnel patrols a deserted road during restrictions in Srinagar. (REUTERS)

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.

First Published: Aug 08, 2019 23:41 IST

Saudi Arabia Added to MSCI Emerging Markets Index



Saudi Arabia Added to MSCI Emerging Markets Index

Thursday, 21 June, 2018 – 11:00
Saudi market regulator has approved Awazel IPO. (File Photo: Reuters)
Riyadh, New York- Shuja Al-Baqmi and Asharq Al Awsat
Index provider MSCI said on Wednesday it will begin including Saudi Arabia in its classification as an emerging market, sharply broadening the investor base for the country in a move that could support their equity markets.

Meanwhile, Saudi stock market resumed its trading following the suspension for Eid Al-Fitr holiday, amid remarkable profit on the shares of leading companies, especially in the banking sector.

On Wednesday, Saudi stock market fell by about 100 points, but the decline did not restrain the shares of some of the small and medium-sized companies from rising, while the shares of the insurance sector rose about 1.23 percent, amid good gains made by sector shares.

The Saudi Stock Market index closed on Wednesday at a decline of 1.3 percent, 8166 points, with few transactions in terms of liquidity amounting to about $ 498.6 million.

These developments come after Saudi Arabia’s launch of the Financial Sector Development 2020 Program. The Program is one of the 12 executive programs launched by the Council of Economic and Development Affairs (CEDA) to achieve the objectives of Vision 2030. The program seeks to develop the financial sector as a diversified and effective financial services sector to support the development of the national economy by stimulating savings, finance and investment.

The program’s objective is to create a thriving financial sector that serves as a key enabler in achieving Vision 2030’s objectives. By 2030, the sector is expected to grow large enough to fund Vision 2030 objectives, offer a diverse set of products and services through traditional and newly emerging players, give citizens thus far excluded from the financial system access to it with an inclusive structure, achieve a high degree of digitization and maintain financial stability.

Through its first pillar, “enabling financial institutions to support private sector growth”, the Program aims to promote a diverse and inclusive sector that drives innovation and serves the financial needs of a broader population. In doing so, it will open the sector to emerging FinTech players, remove obstacles that hinder the growth of finance companies, unlock financing for SMEs, and increase mortgage penetration. Further, the program will improve access to financing and enhance product offerings to better serve the needs of economic sectors.