SRINAGAR: After three days of total shutdown to protest against bifurcation of J&K, there was a semblance of normalcy in the Kashmir Valley on Friday as shops opened in the morning for a few hours and private transport was back on the roads.
Authorities barred people from offering annual “Khoja Digar” (afternoon prayers) at a Sufi shrine in Nowhatta area. There were also no permission for the Friday prayers at the Jamia Masjid in down Srinagar for 13th week since August 5.
The shops and business establishments opened in Srinagar and other parts of the Valley in the morning till 10 am. In the evening, shops in some areas opened for a few hours from 5 pm.The Valley is observing spontaneous shutdown since August 5. Though shops are opening for few hours, they remain closed during the day to protest the bifurcation of J&K.
Private transport was also back on the roads, as two-wheelers and three-wheelers were seen on the roads. However, the public transport remained off the road for the 89th consecutive day.Authorities imposed restrictions in Nowhatta area of downtown Srinagar. The police and paramilitary personnel had placed concertina wires on the roads to restrict public movement.
All gates of grand mosque (Jamia Masjid) in Nowhatta remained locked. Security personnel did not allow anybody to move towards the mosque to offer Friday prayers there.For years, people have been offering the Khoja Digar prayers on third day of third month of Islamic calendar annually. It is for the first time in over 400 years that the annual prayers at the Sufi shrine were disallowed by the authorities, a local told this newspaper.
About 50-60 men and women attempted to breach the security cordon and reach the shrine to offer the annual prayers. However, they were intercepted by the security personnel, who fired tear smoke shells and resorted to baton charge to disperse them.