Kashmiris heading home for Eid despite curfew, uncertainty

New Delhi, Aug 8 (IANS) Despite curfew in the Kashmir Valley, almost every flight from Delhi to Srinagar is full carrying Kashmiris back to their homes in the "tense" region to celebrate Eid and meet their family members who are now separated with outer world due to snapping of mobile and internet services ahead of the revocation of Article 370.

Most of the travellers said this Eid-ul-Adha or the feast of sacrifice, which falls on August 12 this year, is almost spoiled after the Centre scrapped Article 370 and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir in two Union Territories -- Jammu and Kashmir with an Assembly and Ladakh withou one -- and has imposed curfew in the Valley, they are still eager to visit home to find out how their family members are surviving in the present circumstance.

Most of the flights reportedly are almost full since Monday and there are no tourists in these flights. "Only Kashmiris and very few officials of Army and other forces are travelling in these flights," said a government official, requesting anonymity.

There are 89 flights per week flying from New Delhi to Srinagar as of August.

Kamran (name changed), a journalist, said: "God knows how my family members are living there (Srinagar). I just want to meet them. I am not in touch with them for several days as phones and internet are not functioning there."

Azura, an engineering student, said she is going to celebrate Eid with her mother despite it being "spoiled" because of restrictions over there. "But the major purpose is to meet my mother who is alone at home as her brother is out of the country. My father died two years back. And she is alone at home. I used to talk her everyday but she is out of reach since August 4 as the government has suspended mobile and internet services in the Valley."

A resident of downtown Srinagar, Inzamam told IANS that he cannot leave his family in this situation. "I hope my family will be good. I wanted to leave just after the announcement to repeal Article 370 but could not go because of some other work. Now I am leaving on an Indigo flight. I am not sure when I will return."

Hundreds of people are at the Delhi airport, some angry and annoyed. "The abrogation of Article 370 and 35A has been forced on us. We have been held and told that curfew is imposed on us," a youth said.

Another man said: "Our Eid has been spoiled."

In Kashmir Valley and Jammu region, strict curbs are in place since the night of August 4 and most of the political leaders are under detention, which the government says is a "precautionary measure" to prevent disturbances and violence that may be engineered over the Article 370 issue.

Tens of thousands of security personnel drawn from paramilitary forces like the CRPF, the BSF, the SSB and the ITBP, along with Jammu and Kashmir Police, have been deployed, mainly in Kashmir Valley and Jammu province, to enforce Section 144 which prohibits gathering of more than four persons at a place.

Kashmir is in a lockdown since late Sunday, a day before the Centre passed a resolution to scrap Article 370 of the Indian Constitution that granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

No communication facilities are available to the locals, while over 500 people have been detained and arrested in Kashmir so far, including former Chief Ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah.

--IANS

rak/vd

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