Srinagar formed long queues outside cash machines and food stores on Saturday


Residents of Indian-administered Kashmir’s main city of Srinagar formed long queues outside cash machines and food stores as Indian authorities briefly eased a crippling curfew now into its seventh day to let the Muslim-majority region prepare for the Eid al-Adha festival. Aljazeera reported.

The indefinite 24-hour curfew – imposed as part of an unprecedented lockdown following the revocation of the special status of the disputed Himalayan region – was relaxed on Saturday.

However, communications lines, including landline phones and internet, remained down, with residents saying they were not able to reach their loved ones during the Eid al-Adha and Hajj pilgrimage.

The curfew was also relaxed on Friday for weekly prayers in parts of Srinagar. Hundreds of residents protested following the prayers, during which some were hurt when police fired tear gas and pellet guns.

Baseer Khan, a top administrative official, said on Saturday that essential commodities including food, grains and meat will be delivered to different parts of the region by Sunday.

Meanwhile, huge numbers of troops remained on the streets, a day after security forces used tear gas to break up a demonstration of thousands of people against the government’s move to revoke Kashmir’s autonomy.

Authorities in Indian-occupied Kashmir say that restrictions — that had been in place since last week — have been eased in most parts of Srinagar ahead of the Eidul Azha festival following India’s decision to strip the region of its constitutional autonomy. Dawn reported.

Magistrate Shahid Choudhary in a tweet says that more than 250 ATMs have been made functional and bank branches have opened for people to withdraw money ahead of Monday’s Eidul Azha, that falls on Monday.

There has been no immediate independent confirmation of reports by authorities on Sunday that people are visiting shopping areas for festival purchases as all communications and the internet remain cut off.

The Kashmir Media Service, however, has reported that the curfew is still in place and the occupied region continues to face a blackout for the seventh day.

Kashmiri fighters have been fighting New Delhi’s rule for decades in the occupied territory, and most Kashmiri residents want either independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Gov Satya Pal Malik said in interviews with television networks that there would be easing of restrictions and adequate essential supplies for Monday’s Eidul Azha festival.

His comments came as India’s main opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi, on Saturday demanded a statement from Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the situation in occupied Kashmir, saying there are reports of violence and people dying.

Talking to reporters in New Delhi, Gandhi said “things are going very wrong there”, and called for the Indian government to make clear what is happening.

Authorities in Srinagar, the region’s main city, said there have been instances of stone pelting by protesters but no gun firing by security forces in the past six days. Television images on Saturday showed movement of cars and people in some parts of occupied Kashmir.

“There has been no untoward incident barring minor stone-pelting, which was dealt with on the spot and was nipped in the bud,” Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh told the Press Trust of India news agency.

On Thursday, Modi assured the people of Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir that normalcy would gradually return and that the government was ensuring that the current restrictions do not dampen the of Eidul Azha on Monday.

New Delhi rushed tens of thousands of additional soldiers to one of the world’s most militarised regions to prevent unrest and protests after Modi’s Hindu nationalist-led government said on Monday that it was revoking occupied Kashmir’s special constitutional status and downgrading its statehood. Modi said the move was necessary to free the region of “terrorism and separatism”.

The indefinite 24-hour curfew was briefly eased on Friday for weekly Muslim prayers in some parts of Srinagar, but thousands of residents are still forced to stay indoors with shops and most health clinics closed. All communications and the internet remain cut off.

Following Friday prayers, police used tear gas and pellets to fight back the protesters who gathered in their largest numbers since authorities clamped down and detained more than 500 political and separatist leaders.

Other stone-throwing incidents were reported from the northern and southern parts of occupied Kashmir.

Authorities were closely watching for any anti-India protests, which will determine a further easing of restrictions for the Eid holiday.

The region’s top administrative official, Baseer Khan, said that essential commodities including food, grains and meat will be delivered to different parts of the region by Sunday.

In the meantime, most residents have been waking up before dawn to get food and other supplies stockpiled by neighbourhood shopkeepers and pharmacists inside their homes. Shortly after dawn, police and paramilitary soldiers swiftly occupy the roads and streets as part of the restrictions on movement.

While some easing on the movement and opening of shops is expected around Eid, officials still held reservations about restoring mobile and internet services. Some relaxation of curbs on landline communication, however, could be considered, they said.