Violent protests, after congregational prayers, marred Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations in the city on Monday, when a mob beat up three policemen and set their vehicle ablaze in the Eidgah area.

As soon as the prayers concluded at Eidgah in the Old City, hundreds of youth blocked the road and stopped a police vehicle on its way to Soura from Qamarwari, beat up the cops including an assistant sub-inspector and set the vehicle afire. Police fired several rounds of tear gas shells and a few shots in the air to disperse the mob, which however fled the scene, official sources said.

Additional police and paramilitary personnel were rushed to the spot.

Although officials did not cite any reason for the sudden violence, the separatist camp said it was a reaction to the Jammu and Kashmir government imposing restrictions on Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and other leaders, which prevented them from offering Eid prayers.

On Sunday, the government put the top brass of separatist leadership including the Mirwaiz, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mohammad Yasin Malik under house arrest as a preventive measure to maintain law and order.

The Mirwaiz, who addressed an Eid gathering on the phone, said: “If the government wants peace in Kashmir, it needs to resolve the issues by addressing them.”

He said: “Leaving politics aside, imposing curbs on people and preventing them from discharging their religious duties is interference in our religious matters.”

Elsewhere in the Kashmir Valley, Eid-ul-Fitr was celebrated with traditional fervour and gaiety. Dressed in their best, men and women of all ages, accompanied by children, made a beeline for prayer grounds, mosques and shrines.

The fasting month of Ramadan ended on Sunday with the sighting of the crescent moon as Muslims follow the lunar calendar.

The biggest gathering was witnessed on the Tourist Reception Centre ground near Lal Chowk and Eidgah, officials said. More than 7,000 devotees offered prayers at the Hazratbal Shrine including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and his father and Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah.

Large gatherings were also witnessed at Jenab Sahib Soura, Makhdoom Sahib, Sonawar, Iqra Masjid, Jamia Masjid Barzulla.

Amid tension, Id sweets exchanged on LoC

Amid tension on the border due to repeated ceasefire violation by Pakistan, the Army on Monday exchanged greetings and sweets with their Pakistani counterparts along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr.

Pakistani Army officials were led by Major Umer Gul of 11 Baloch Regiment and Major Yaseen, while the Indian side was led by Major S. Manhas at the flag meeting held at Chakan-Da- Bagh crossing point.

Heavy firing exchanges erupted along the International border (IB) on Sunday night after Pakistan violated the ceasefire by targeting Indian posts to push in a group of militants in Akhnoor sector of Jammu district, where one intruder was killed.

It is the 14th time that Pakistan has violated the ceasefire along the IB and the LoC in the last fortnight.

Pakistan troops also fired on the forward posts in Krishnagati belt along the LoC in Poonch sector violating the ceasefire on Sunday night.