Eid al-Adha was celebrated across India, except in Kashmir and Bengaluru. Both wore a deserted look following protests, stone-pelting, burning of vehicles and curfew. The usual festivities that mark the eve of Eid were missing in lieu of the curfew imposed in both the states. This is the first time in 26 years, since the onset of militancy, that no Eid congregations will be held at the Idgah and Hazratbal shrines in Kashmir. Even as the state reeled under the curfew, three protesters were reportedly killed in firing.
Bengaluru woke up to a similar scene, as on Monday protesters rallied against the Supreme Court's directive on the Cauvery and by the end of the day, the city police had to impose Section 144 in Bengaluru.
However, for the rest of India, Eid was celebrated with much fanfare. In Uttar Pradesh, however, the Akhilesh Yadav government made elaborate security arrangements. No incidents were reported though. An official told IANS that additional forces were deployed in Agra, Firozabad, Moradabad, Bijnor, Kanpur and Lucknow districts. In Lucknow alone, mostly in the old city, over 2,000 policemen were deployed for the festival and they would be supervised by 25 senior police officials.
The Valley woke up to a subdued Eid in view of the ongoing shutdown sponsored by separatists. Unrest in Kashmir has become a way of life since 8 July after the Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani was killed by security forces in an encounter. Though the separatists have been relaxing the strike in the evening hours of most of the days, groups of youth have been fanning out in different markets and forcing shutdown during the relaxation period in the past, PTI reported.
For the first time in many years, authorities today imposed curfew in all 10 districts of the Kashmir Valley on Eid even as helicopters and drones have been pressed into service for surveillance. Restrictions on assembly of large number of people have been imposed in view of the call by separatists for a march to the local offices of the United Nations on Tuesday, coinciding with the global body's Opening of 71st Session of the UN General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday.
Three youths were killed in clashes between mobs and security forces in the Kashmir Valley, police said. A 24-year-old identified as Shahid Ahmed was killed in Shopian district when a mob attacked security forces after Eid prayers. Jallaluddin, 45, died of a heart attack during a clash with police in Awantipora town of Pulwama district.
Police said a tear smoke shell fired at the protesters abruptly dropped into the mosque where Jallaluddin died. Earlier, 25-year-old Murtaza was killed in clashes in Bandipora district.
The Army, which has been asked to be on standby, will step in if there is fresh outbreak of violence in the Valley, which has been witnessing widespread unrest for over two months leading to death of over 75 people so far, official sources said. Army troops have already been stationed at vantage points in rural areas which have a history of violent protests, they said, adding curfew came in force from midnight.
Since 1990s, when militancy first emerged in a big way in the state, this is the first time that curfew was imposed in Kashmir. Security forces are out on the streets in adequate strength following apprehension of violence by the separatist elements, who often use women and children as "shields" during protest rallies resulting in civilian casualties.
The government has already ordered shutdown of Internet services of all telecom networks and also mobile telephony except that of the state-run BSNL for the next 72 hours because of the tense law and order situation in the state.
Political parties, especially the main opposition National Conference, slammed the government for its decision to impose curfew, saying it vindicated the party's claim that the Mehbooba Mufti government had no control over the situation. "The PDP always loves to compare the situation with 2010 agitation but never ever has there been a curfew on auspicious occasion like Eid before," the National Conference spokesman told PTI.
The decision to completely ban Internet services was taken after a review of the prevailing law and order situation in the state on the eve of Eid al-Adha festival, sources said. They said Airtel, Aircel, Vodafone and Reliance Telecom have been ordered to shut down their services with immediate effect for 72 hours. The BSNL too has been asked to stop its broadband services for Internet.
However, post-paid BSNL connections, which are mainly used by police, army and government officials, have been kept out of the purview of the ban, the sources said. Mobile telephony was banned immediately after the death of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on 8 July which set off the current spiral of violence in the Valley. It was partially restored on 27 July followed by opening of only broadband Internet.
While a fair number of private vehicles were plying on some roads, especially the city centre Lal Chowk and adjoining areas, shops and business establishments remained closed during day time due to the strike called by separatists. The massive footfall of customers at bakeries, sweets shops and garment stores, a usual sight on the festival eve, remained missing with all these outlets closed.
One of the famous confectionery-cum-bakery on the upmarket Residency Road — Modern Sweets — stuck a poster outside its store reading: 'No bakery available on Eid'. Shakti Sweets, which is right next to Modern Sweets, also had its shutters down, PTI reported.
However, sale of sacrificial animals is going on at many places in the city. "Our sale is around 10 percent of what it used to be on the eve of Eid-ul Azha. I do not think there is any chance of it picking up with less than 24 hours left for the festivities," Altaf Ahmad, a livestock dealer told PTI. The separatist groups have urged people to observe Eid with austerity.
An uneasy calm prevailed in Bengaluru, where one person was killed in police firing on Monday night and curfew is in force in 16 sensitive localities after angry protests turned violent in southern Karnataka over releasing more Cauvery river water to Tamil Nadu. Widespread violence erupted in Bengaluru and some other parts of Karnataka, while sporadic trouble was witnessed in Tamil Nadu following Supreme Court's modified order on sharing Cauvery water by the two riparian states.
Police opened fire when a mob tried to attack a patrol vehicle at Hegganahalli in Rajagopal Nagar police limits as violence flared up in Bengaluru city with rampaging mobs setting fire to buses and trucks with Tamil Nadu registration plates. "Two were brought with bullet injuries. One with bullet injury near the heart has died. The other is being operated for injury on right thigh," Dr Giridhar, Managing Director of Lakshmi Multi-Speciality Hospital, where they were taken told PTI on Monday night.
"We have, however, relaxed curfew in many areas for Muslims to offer prayers on Eid at mosques and in open grounds," a police official told IANS. Though schools, colleges, government and private offices and banks have holiday for Eid fest, several IT firms and back offices, which are working, advised their employees to work from homes in view of the simmering tension across the city.
Shops, markets, malls, hotels, eateries and commercial establishments are observing an undeclared shutdown across the city due to fear of being attacked by protesters. Buses, taxis and three-wheeler autorickshaws are also off the roads, while metro rail service were suspended till late on Monday.
Hundreds of passengers at railway stations in Bengaluru and at the airport on the outskirts had a tough time in reaching their home or workplaces in the absence of taxis, autos and buses. A Rapid Action Force (RAF) platoon staged a flag-march in the city's north-west suburb to instil confidence in the people that the situation is under control.
Soon after the apex court gave its amended order, directing Karnataka to release 12000 cusecs of water daily to Tamil Nadu till September 20, violence and arson flared up in Bengaluru, with rampaging mobs setting afire at least 30 vehicles bearing Tamil Nadu number plates. As violence broke out sending a wave of panic across Bengaluru, the city was brought under prohibitory orders till 14 September.
Incidents of arson came even as police said they have made elaborate security arrangements with 15,000 policemen being deployed, bolstered by Karnataka State Reserve Police, City Armed Reserve Police, RAF, Quick Reaction Teams, special forces, Central Industrial Security Force and Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force.
In view of the deteriorating situation, the Centre rushed 10 companies (about 1,000 personnel) of the special anti-riot paramilitary force RAF to Karnataka. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh also called up Chief Ministers of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu tonight and assured them all central assistance in handling the law and order situation.
After Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah spoke to Singh, an official statement issued in Bengaluru described the situation as "fully under control". The Union home minister responded "positively" to the request for additional central forces, it said. Describing the violence in Karnataka as alarming, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa wrote to Siddaramaiah, seeking protection for Tamil speaking people and their property, hours after he had made a similar plea to her.
With inputs from agencies