Friday prayers pass peacefully in Kashmir Valley (Lead)

August 30th, 2008 - 12:20 am ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, Aug 29 (IANS) Friday prayers went off peacefully across the Kashmir Valley without any incidents of violence as curfew was relaxed in a phased manner, allowing people to move out of their homes to buy essentials.Authorities had tightened curfew in summer capital Srinagar following reports that separatists had urged people to assemble at the Jamia Mosque in the old city to offer Friday prayers.

“Friday prayers were offered across the Valley by the people in their local mosques peacefully,” a police official said.

“There were no large congregations of course, but Friday prayers were held in mosques everywhere here,” he said.

He also confirmed that there was no major incident of violence anywhere during the curfew relaxation period.

“Curfew was relaxed in a phased manner in Srinagar city this evening and people were seen buying food items and other essential supplies,” the officer said.

“The relaxation period passed off peacefully,” he added.

Curfew was relaxed for shorter periods of two hours in the police station areas of uptown and old town Srinagar city. The relaxation period was extended in Badgam, Pampore, Awantipora, Kulgam, Ganderbal, Bandipora and Shopian towns after the district magistrates decided to increase the period because of the improvement in the situation.

Earlier, the police arrested senior separatist leader Shabbir Ahmad Shah of the moderate Mirwaiz Hurriyat group from the uptown Rawalpora locality of Srinagar city.

State Governor N.N. Vohra told some media persons belonging to the electronic news channels, who called on him at the Raj Bhawan, that everything would be done to ensure that the media was provided facilities during the discharge of their duties.

Jammu and Kashmir has been witnessing widespread violent protests for more than two and a half months now.

The protests were triggered following a dispute over 40 hectares of forest land allotted to the Hindu Amarnath shrine board.

The land transfer was later cancelled when the land allotment decision was reversed July 1 following a Muslim backlash in the valley.

Hindus in the Jammu region staged demonstrations, blocking the movement of goods to the valley for some days.

More than 47 people have died, mostly in police and paramilitary firing, in the turmoil, which has been stoked both by separatist leaders in the Muslim-majority Kashmir Valley and Hindu groups in the Jammu region.

The unrest also breathed life into the separatist movement in Kashmir which witnessed huge rallies in the last fortnight.

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