India: Drones to keep vigil as Kashmir observes Eid amid curfew
The government has ordered the shut down of Internet services of all telecom networks except the state-run BSNL for the next 72 hours. In photo: A Kashmiri man looks out from his home during a curfew, October 11, 2008 in summer capital, Srinagar. Photograph: (Getty)
Probably for the first time in 26 years since the militancy began in India's northern Kashmir Valley, curfew is likely to be imposed in all ten districts on the occasion of Eid, a Muslim festival.
Drones and helicopters will be used for surveillance.
Sources in the government informed that security forces in large numbers will man the streets, following apprehension of violence by the separatist elements, who "often use women and children as shields during protest rallies resulting in civilian casualties".
Instructions have also been issued to keep the Eid namaaz a local affair to keep the congregations to the minimum, sources in security establishment in national capital, Delhi. told DNA.
The state government in northernmost Jammu and Kashmir is unlikely to allow congregations for Eid namaaz at Idgahs as they can accommodate thousands of people. This is for the first time in 26 years that no Eid congregations will be held at the Eidgahs, places where mass prayers are offered by the members of Muslim community, and Hazratbal shrine in the Valley.
The government has already ordered shutdown of Internet services of all telecom networks and mobile telephony except that of the state-run BSNL (Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited) for the next 72 hours because of the tense law and order situation in the state.
However, post-paid BSNL connections, which are mainly used by police, army and government officials, have been kept out of the purview of the ban, the sources said.
Mobile telephony was banned immediately after the death of separatist leader, Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in an encounter with security forces on July 8 which set off the current spiral of violence in the Valley. It was partially restored on July 27 followed by opening of only broadband Internet.
Meanwhile, separatists are bracing up for a major showdown with chief minister Mehbooba Mufti-led government over the 'azadi' march to United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan on the day of Eid festival today.
The state government, on the other hand, has decided to strictly enforce prohibitory orders under section 144 of the The Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC ) the Valley with the support of the army.
Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), an alliance of Hurriyat hawk and hardline leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, moderate Hurriyat chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and The Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) leader Mohammad Yasin Malik, which is supervising the current agitation, has called for 'Azadi march' towards central Eidgahs followed by a procession towards the United Nations (UN) office for submitting a memorandum to be conveyed to 71st Session of General Assembly of UN starting on September 13.
After putting a large number of army boots on the ground to help state police and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) retrieve areas in their control, Indian government is hopeful of quelling the 66-day-long violent unrest within ten days.
(This report first appeared on DNA)