By: Radhakrishna NS
FRESH restrictions were imposed in parts of Kashmir on Friday to maintain law and order in view of congregational prayers, even as markets in the valley remained shut and public transport was off the roads for the 54th day, officials said.
Restrictions under Section 144 CrPc were imposed on Friday morning in various parts of the valley, the officials said.
They said the curbs were imposed in five police station areas of Nowhatta, Rainawari, Safakadal, Khanyar and Maharaj Gunj in downtown (interior areas) and in Hazratbal zone in Srinagar.
The restrictions were also imposed in Ganderbal, Anantnag, Awantipora, Sopore and Handwara towns of the valley, the officials added.
The authorities also sealed the Lal Chowk city centre – the commercial hub of the city – by placing barricades and concertina wires on all entry and exit points leading to the area, they said.
The officials said the curbs were imposed as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order in view of the Friday congregational prayers.
Restrictions were first imposed across the Kashmir on 5 August when the Centre announced its decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate the state into two Union territories.
The restrictions were lifted in phases from many parts of the valley as the situation improved with passage of time.
However, the authorities have been imposing restrictions in vulnerable areas of the valley every Friday, apprehending that vested interests might exploit the large gatherings at big mosques and shrines to fuel protests.
Friday prayers have not been allowed at any of the major mosques or shrines in the valley for the past one month now.
Meanwhile, normal life remained affected in Kashmir as main markets and other business establishments continued to remain closed for the 54th consecutive day on Friday, the officials said. Public transport was off the roads and the movement of private cars was also lesser than Thursday, they said.
Mobile services remained suspended in Kashmir except in Handwara and Kupwara areas in the north, while Internet services across all platforms continued to be snapped in the valley, they added.
Most of the top-level and second-rung separatist politicians have been taken into preventive custody while mainstream leaders, including two former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, have been either detained or placed under house arrest.
Another former chief minister and sitting Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar Farooq Abdullah has been arrested under the controversial Public Safety Act.