Srinagar, Sep 11 (IANS) Eid-ul-Zuha, one of the holiest Muslim festivals, is going to be a highly subdued event in Kashmir this year. The only visible sign of Kashmiris preparing for the festival that falls on Tuesday is the buying of sacrificial animals at some places in summer capital Srinagar and other parts of the Valley.
Barring that, there was no other indication on Sunday that the holy Muslim festival is just two days away.
The traditional animal bazaars bustling with sellers and buyers that generally mark the festival eve, or the long queues of locals waiting for bakery, mutton, poultry, hosiery, or children thronging markets for firecrackers are nowhere to be seen this year.
Markets are closed, pedestrian malls are deserted and there is an eerie silence that indicates the locals are in no mood to celebrate.
Except for scores of police and paramilitary forces dotting roads, markets and sensitive installations, Srinagar city was on Sunday shut for the general public.
Authorities said no curfew or restrictions had been imposed anywhere in the Valley on Sunday, but people decided to remain indoors fearing clashes between stone pelting mobs and the security forces.
There are no shops for shoppers to throng, and the faces of people are devoid of any festive smile.
Some of the better known bakery outlets have not even dared to prepare the choice cookies, cakes and biscuits that would lure buyers during Eid celebrations in the past.
One of the oldest traditions associated with Eid festival in the Valley has been buying new clothes for the family.
“Hardly anybody has been to my shop to buy new clothes this time. In fact, my shop has remained closed for the last 65 days,” said a cloth merchant in old city Zaina Kadal area.
Foreseeing few buyers, mutton sellers have not built up on stocks.
“I have just so much stock of sheep as I do during any normal day. I haven’t bought additional sheep for Eid this time,” said a mutton seller in north Kashmir Ganderbal district.
Nomadic goatherds called the ‘Bakerwal’ who are these days leaving the meadows of the Valley for their winter homes in Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu region are the only ones selling goats and sheep being bought as sacrificial animals in Srinagar city.
Separatists have appealed to locals to celebrate Eid with austerity as a mark of respect for the victims of the ongoing Valley unrest.
Separatists have asked people to hold a protest march on Eid to the office of United Nations Military Observers Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) in Sonwar locality of Srinagar city.
Authorities have decided to impose curfew and restrictions to prevent the separatist- called march.
“We have intelligence inputs that separatists are planning large scale violence on Eid in Srinagar and elsewhere. Adequate arrangements have been made to scuttle the separatist designs,” a senior intelligence officer said here.
Sources also said authorities could suspend broadband Internet facility on fixed landlines on Tuesday to check spread of rumours.
All mobile Internet facilities on cell phones and other appliances remained suspended across the Valley for 65 days Sunday.
Incoming calling facility on all prepaid mobile phones have also been suspended during this period.
Large prayer gatherings of people in Srinagar city and other cities and towns of the Valley at Eidgahs would also not be allowed to prevent post prayer violence on Eid, sources told IANS here.
At least 79 people have died in clashes between the security forces and protesting mobs in the Valley in the cycle of violence that started on July 9.
Over 11,000 others have been injured during this period.
There is a general pall of gloom in the Valley which has overshadowed any enthusiasm that would have been associated with one of the holiest Muslim festivals in Kashmir.
(Sheikh Qayoom can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)