Srinagar: Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir continued severe restrictions in the region for the second consecutive day in the wake of the death of senior Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who passed away late Wednesday night.
Geelani, 92, who spent the last decade under house arrest, died at his Hyderpora residence, prompting authorities to impose an unprecedented clampdown in the valley on people’s movement and communication services.
Except for a few connections, a majority of mobile and internet services continued to remain disrupted for the second day in the region, increasing fear and uncertainty among people. All shops, business establishments and offices remained shut. The administration had warned people from attending the funeral prayers of the nonagenarian leader, who was buried hurriedly by a team of security and police officials in the night hours against the will of his followers and family members.
The authorities feared that the leader’s death could stir protests and demonstrations against the government. The situation, however, remained calm, barring a few incidents of minor clashes. The University of Kashmir said that it has postponed all PG, UG examinations, scheduled to be held on Saturday, due to the situation. The administration has said that they will review the decision about resuming the mobile and internet services after assessing the situation, meaning that the curbs could continue until the situation completely becomes calm in the administration's view.
"The situation is completely under control. Not a single untoward incident happened in the last two days and it's due to the cooperation of people. We are going to review the situation. I believe we will restore phone lines and internet services soon," Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbag Singh was quoted as saying.
Many, however, expressed their dismay over the clampdown and the government’s decision to stop people from attending Geelani's last rites, considered as the most influential Hurriyat leader from Kashmir.
The Union Territory administration also banned people from holding the congregational Friday prayers at various key mosques, including the central mosques, Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta and Jamia Masjid in Hydepora.
In several mosques, especially in Downtown Srinagar, people performed the funeral prayers in absentia for Geelani.
“Everyone wanted to participate in the last rites of this revered leader but, the authorities stopped people from attending it, which is very unfortunate,” a cleric announced, during the Friday speech at a mosque, in Srinagar.
Many others claimed that they had to face serious issues during an emergency due to the ongoing clampdown.
“My sister’s colon surgery is slated for today in Srinagar. Our Home is under a communication blackout. I’ve been wondering about mundane things: coordination for medication, need to contact blood bank or anything unforeseen. As I scroll up and down, I notice tweets about women in Herat,” a local, Farah Bashir, tweeted.
Due to the curbs on communication services, a prominent newspaper suspended its publication, according to an employee, after their newspaper copies were confiscated on Thursday. The separatist leader’s death, many believe, has created a void in the separatist camp of Kashmir.
All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said that Geelani’s demise has not only created a “big void in the political corridors of Jammu and Kashmir but also marked the completion of an era.”
“The people were not allowed to participate in the funeral prayers of Syed Ali Geelani as strict restrictions and curbs were imposed across the Valley, which is extremely shameful and exposes the authoritarian mindset of the government,” APHC said in a statement.