Srinagar: The usual hustle and bustle of Eid al-Adha, one of the biggest festivals in Kashmir, was missing on Monday, as norma life in the Valley was paralysed following heavy security deployment, restrictions on movement and curtailing of communication links after the Centre revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status under Article 370 and moved a bill proposing bifurcation of the state on August 5.
It was also a quiet and lonely Eid for former J&K chief ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, quite unlike previous years when their homes were full of celebratory crowds of supporters, friends and family members, officials said. The three leaders were detained after the Centre revoked J&K’s special status under Article 370 on August 5.
Several political leaders, who were picked up on August 5, offered prayers at the Centaur Hotel here, the officials said.
Elsewhere in the Valley, too, Eid-al-Adha celebrations were muted with an unprecedented security cover and curfew-like restrictions. All modes of communication, including internet and phones, have been snapped.
Eid prayers were limited to neighbourhood mosques in Kashmir. Security forces fanned out across towns and villages, restricting the movement of people and prohibiting congregations in large grounds.
However, the J&K Police tweeted, saying: "#Eid #prayers concluded #peacefully in various parts of the #valley. No untoward incident reported so far.”
Prisoners in Their Own Homes: Yechury
In New Delhi, Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary of the CPI(M) said people of Kashmir have been kept "imprisoned" in their own homes and warned the government that the impact of changing J&K’s status would be felt in other states with special status.
While greeting people on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, Yechury, who along with CPI general secretary D Raja had been denied entry into Srinagar on Friday, said he still didn't know the condition of his party colleagues in Kashmir.
"Eid is an occasion of joy and celebration, and our thoughts are with the people of Kashmir who have been kept imprisoned in their own homes. We still don't know how or where our Comrades in Kashmir are," he tweeted.
"We are a country of diverse languages, religions, cultures & ideas; this is our strength. The impact of undemocratically and forcibly altering Jammu and Kashmir's status will be felt in other states with special status. Let's not forget that most are on India's borders," Yechury said.
J&K Students Boycott AMU Lunch
In Aligarh, Kashmiri students at the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) boycotted the lunch invite from the liaison officer of the central government on the occasion of Eid al-Adha to protest the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 that gave special status to J&K
They issued a statement rejecting the invite and claiming that it was aimed at "rubbing salt on the wounds of the people of Kashmir".
AMU officials, when contacted, confirmed the boycott call, stressing that they were taking steps "to instill confidence" in students from the Valley and ensuring their safety and security, as advised by the central government.
In a statement posted on social media, the Kashmiri students said the offer to host the Eid lunch was a hollow gesture to mislead international public opinion and divert attention from the humanitarian crisis triggered by the "unconstitutional and authoritarian" moves of the central government.
It said that since the clampdown on communications in the Valley after the revocation of the special status to J&K, the students have "no idea" about the well-being of their family members.
"Hence, the question of celebrating the festival does not arise," the statement added.
A senior AMU official said the Eid lunch had been organised under an initiative of the government's Liaison Officer and the Governor of J&K.
There are about 1,300 students from the Valley studying at AMU. While some students had not returned after the end of summer vacations, a large number of them are staying in hostels.
Amarinder Singh Hosts Kashmiri Students
In Chandigarh, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh hosted 125 Kashmiri students on Eid and said he was confident that situation would improve in the Valley soon.
The students belonged to various universities of Punjab.
With curfew-like restrictions in place across the Valley, it was an Eid away from home for the students.
The invitation from the chief minister for lunch at Punjab Bhavan made it an occasion to cherish and feel at home, said many students.
Assuring them of their safety in Punjab, the chief minister said, "We cannot replace your families. But I hope you consider us as your family too."
The Punjab CM told the students that though he had not been to Kashmir for a long time due to his busy political schedule, he considered the Valley as his second home.
Reciprocating the chief minister's sentiments, the students said they too considered Punjab as their second home, where they had always felt safe, even after the Pulwama terror attack.
"We have seen that Punjabis have a big heart," said a student, Faiq Salem.
"Coming here today reminds us of our families," said Farzana Hafeez, admitting that till they received the invitation, they had been feeling very lonely at the thought of not being at home for the Eid celebrations.
As a memento of their love and respect, the students presented to the chief minister a portrait made by Abdul Azad, a fine arts Kashmiri student from Chandigarh University.
In the aftermath of the revocation of the special status for Jammu and Kashmir by Parliament, the Punjab government has ordered to increase the security for around 8,000 Kashmiri students in the state and directed superintendents of police and deputy commissioners to meet them personally.