Kashmir dispute: Residents attend Friday prayers amid lockdown

A security lockdown in Indian-administered Kashmir remains largely in place although residents have been allowed to attend Friday prayers in some local mosques.

However the main mosque in Srinagar is closed and tight restrictions continue.

Thousands of troops are still patrolling the streets four days after the Indian government revoked the Muslim-majority state’s autonomy.

The area has been under a virtual communications blackout since Sunday.

Some people have reported that they are now able to access the internet, and mobile phone signals appear to be active in some parts of Srinagar – the main city in Indian-administered Kashmir. But connectivity is yet to be fully restored.

However, the BBC’s Aamir Peerzada in Srinagar says that a curfew imposed on Monday remains in place. PM Narendra Modi has promised Kashmiris that they will be able to celebrate the religious holiday of Eid al-Adha on Sunday.

India deployed tens of thousands of troops to Muslim-majority Kashmir ahead of Monday’s announcement that Article 370 – as the constitutional provision granting the region special status is known – was to be revoked. Since that controversial announcement, it has detained hundreds of people including politicians, activists and academics in makeshift centres in an effort to quell protests.

But sporadic violence has already broken out. BBC reporters saw some protesters throwing stones at security forces, and spoke to residents who said they feared that the situation could worsen significantly.

In the past, Kashmir has witnessed protests after Friday prayers.

Despite an earlier police announcement about the easing of restrictions to facilitate prayers, Jama Masjid, Srinagar’s largest mosque, remains closed.

Correspondents say that this was ostensibly to avoid the gathering of a large crowd that could potentially turn violent.

Delhi has had a tumultuous relationship with the valley for decades – there has been an armed insurgency against Indian rule there since 1989, with thousands of lives lost. Massive protests have regularly broken out and Indian security forces have repeatedly been accused of human rights abuses in putting down demonstrations.

 

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