Kashmir hopes for a peaceful Eid as tempers cool down after Burhan Wani's death last year

Srinagar: Wary of last year's protests, security agencies in Jammu and Kashmir are extra vigilant for maintaining the law and order situation ahead of Eid-ul-Adha on Saturday. The government has decided not to allow the Eid prayers at the TRC ground in Srinagar, which is very close to city centre, Lal Chowk.

Kashmir has become vulnerable to protests for past few years. These protests have become more spontaneous from the last one year mostly after Friday or Eid prayers. This time the situation is expected to be no different and it's more vulnerable when the call for protests has come from joint separatist leadership comprising of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik. They have asked people to stage protests after Eid prayers against tinkering with Article 35A, the arrest of Hurriyat leaders and businessmen by NIA and implementation of Goods and Services Tax regime.

Issues like the abrogation of Article 35A, NIA raids and implementation of GST have remained the hot topics in Kashmir in recent past. People have protested against these. However, from the past few months the separatists have failed in attracting the attention of people in the Valley. The calls for protests from the leadership have witnessed more of a negative response.

 Kashmir hopes for a peaceful Eid as tempers cool down after Burhan Wanis death last year

Representational image. PTI

Just a day before Eid-ul-Adha, markets in the Valley are filled with people shopping for Eid. The scene is in contrast to last year's situation when everything was under siege after the killing of a militant commander, Burhan Wani in July. This reporter had travelled to many areas of south Kashmir at that time where people had blocked roads and protests were intense. The situation had slipped out of hands of the security agencies. Soon after Eid prayers, protests took place across the Valley. The authorities had already stopped congregational Eid prayers in Kashmir's main mosques or at Eidgahs but prayers were held by people in local mosques. Despite precautionary measures taken by the state police and paramilitary forces, two protesters were killed and around 60 got injured.

"Though there has been a sensitive situation from early 90's things have become more fragile from last one year. The situation is unpredictable, anything can happen," a businessman in south Kashmir Javid Ahmad told Firstpost.

It has been a routine in the Valley for the police and paramilitary forces to brace for the possible eruption of protests on congregational prayers whether on Friday, Shab-I-Qadar or Eid prayers.

However many believe that this time there is less possibility of worsening of the situation.

"People are wary of hartals in the Valley which is evident from the recent past in which people refused to follow the hartal calls. And one more thing that last year unrest has broken the backbone of Kashmir's economy thereby taking a toll on people's livelihood," Nisar Ahmad, who works in a private firm, told Firstpost.

The protests might have gone down which flared up last year, yet another challenge that is worrisome for the security agencies are the militant attacks on security forces or the killing of political activists and local policemen in the state.

Recently a major suicide attack that hit district police complex in Pulwama sent shock waves across the security establishment in which eight security forces and three militants got killed. These type of attacks are very rare in Kashmir but policemen and political workers from south Kashmir have remained the soft targets for militants.

There were many incidents in the past in which police and political workers got killed at the hands of militants. They are more vulnerable at the time of gatherings like festivities or marriages.

In one such instance in May this year, a young army major, Umer Fayaz was abducted from his relative's marriage and later killed by the unknown gunmen in Shopian district. The Jammu and Kashmir Police have already issued an advisory in April to its field personnel directing them to not to visit their native places due to possible attacks from militants. Again in June on the eve of Eid-Ul-Fitr another advisory was issued by the police asking its officials to not to attend the Eid prayers in public mosques or Eidgahs. However, police personnel prefer to remain outside on festivities.

"I have to attend the duty on Eid-Ul-Adha but that is fine rather than being at home and come under people's eye. I have been avoiding coming home on festivities or attend gatherings. For me Eid lies in the safety and well being of all of us, no matter whether we are with family or not," a police personnel from south Kashmir told Firstpost.

However many criticise the government's move for disallowing people to offer Eid prayers.

"If everything is fine why don't they allow people to attend prayers. It has a direct impact on the minds of people who get angrier for being kept a bay from Eid prayers," said a student who wished not be named.

Whatever the situation turns out to be on Eid, one thing is clear that security agencies are struggling to bring the situation under control while people look forward to a peaceful situation in the coming days and months after this festival.

Updated Date: Sep 01, 2017 22:39:33 IST