SRI NAGAR: In a first, the Jammu and Kashmir government, imposed restrictions in parts of Srinagar, especially in and around Hazratbal area, on the occasion of Eid-i-Milad, on Sunday, and barred people from attending prayers at the revered Hazratbal shrine.
Security was beefed up in and around areas linking Srinagar and Hazratbal shrine as a precaution, with road blockades being set up in Nageen area to prevent people from reaching the shrine. Traffic was also diverted from Nageen via Kashmir University campus.
Only locals of the areas around the shrine were allowed to visit and offer their prayers. Few hundred locals performed night long prayers in the shrine and caught a glimpse of the holy relic of the Prophet after the prayers.
“Only 400-500 people were present in the shrine in the Fajar (morning) prayers. This was in total contrast to the attendance of thousands of people in the prayers in the shrine on Eid-i-Milad in previous years,” said a photo-journalist who visited the shrine in the morning to take pictures.
A local, Zahoor Ahmad, said it was the first time that people were barred from visiting the Hazratbal shrine.“This amounts to interference in our religious affairs,”Ahmad said.
A police official said restrictions were imposed to maintain law and order as there were apprehensions that some people may attempt to disturb the peace by defying Section 144 restrictions.
Earlier, on November 1, the authorities had barred people from offering annual “Khoja Digar” (afternoon prayers) at a Sufi saint shrine at Naqashband sahib area of Nowhatta, in downtown Srinagar.