Wed. Aug 17th, 2022
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SRINAGAR: Traffic moved normally, slowing down only at signals or at checkpoints of sand bags manned by troops. Markets, offices and schools were open. By afternoon and under a mellow sun, the faithful gathered at mosques for the Friday prayer. It was business as usual in Srinagar and the Valley on the third anniversary of the abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A, which cancelled J&K’s special status on August 5, 2019.
The day passed peacefully, other than a march by Congress, comments by politicians and the Valley’stop clergyman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, and a general strike restricted to a few quarters of Srinagar’s old city.
Farooq, the Mirwaiz-e-Kashmir and head of the Anjuman Aquaf of Jamia Masjid, complained that authorities did not allow the main outside doors of the grand mosque to be opened for the Friday prayers. “Muslims of Kashmir were once again forcibly denied their right to congregational prayers in this historic central place of worship,” he said, while the mosque management alleged that “this undemocratic act is seriously hurting religious sentiments”.
“Due to my three-year-long illegal and arbitrary detention, the mimbar-o-mihraab (pulpit) of Jamia Masjid continues to remain silent,” the Mirwaiz said.
Congress held a peaceful protest march from its Srinagar office against price rise and unemployment, and also demanded full statehood to J&K. Tariq Hameed Karra, Taj Mohiuddin, Bashir Ahmad Magrey were among senior party politicians at the march.
Lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha and high-ranking police officers visited several localities in the city.
Security was tight and movements were monitored because—as a police officer put it—peace can be deceptive in a city that is the prime target of terrorists who are “shorn of peace of mind”.
According to police records, 174 police, military and paramilitary personnel were among 284 killed in terrorist attacks the Valley since August 5, 2019. But no civilian was killed or hurt in the region in street protests/violence since that date, compared to 124 fatalities from 2016 to July 2019. Police said six police and security forces personnel died during operations to maintain law and order from August 5, 2016 to August 4, 2019. The number was zero for the next three years.

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