Jammu and Kashmir observed low-key celebrations on the occasion of Id-ul-Fitr on Sunday because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown.
All major shrines and mosques, including the Jamia Masjid, the Hazratbal shrine and Eidgah in Srinagar and the Talab Khatikaan Jamia Masjid in Jammu, decided against any congregational prayers to mark the end of Ramzan, the holy month of fasting.
As mosque priests and caretakers decreed that physical distancing be maintained and no mass prayers be organised, most people held prayers at home for family members. And scores of people posted pictures on social media. “We offered Id prayers at home with my father leading the prayers,” said Peerzada Mahboob Ul Haq, a local.
Kashmir’s grand priest Nasir-ul-Islam had appealed to people in the red zones and hotspots to organise prayers at home and those in green zones to do prayers on playgrounds, wearing masks and maintaining physical distance.
“May this Id be the harbinger of peace and prosperity for the entire Jammu and Kashmir and may Allah bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic soon,” said Mr. Islam, who sighted the crescent on late Saturday evening and declared Id for Sunday.
Unlike in the past when streets would be abuzz with children wearing new clothes, the Valley wore a deserted look. “We are organising video meetings with relatives to exchange greetings. We may have to give up on Eidee [the gift given by elders to children] due to the novel coronavirus pandemic,” said Nazia Jan, a Class 10 student of Srinagar’s Gojwara area.
Security forces deployed more men and opened more checkpoints across the Valley.
Tension in Srinagar
Tension gripped parts of Srinagar after two men died at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital of injuries they had sustained in a house gutted during the May 19 gunfight. A wall collapsed on Manzoor Ahmad of Hawal and Fayaz Ahmad Bhat of Nawa Kadal when the debris was cleared after the gunfight.
“They also suffered burns,” doctors said. Three civilians have so far died in the accident at the encounter site. Police sources said protesters hurled stones in parts of Srinagar, but were chased away.
Sonia greets people
Congress president Sonia Gandhi greeted the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “Festivals will continue to provide us opportunities to intermingle and exchange ideas with each other, reflecting the diversity, age-old tradition and communal harmony in the country. I send my best wishes to people of J&K on this auspicious occasion and pray that Almighty save everyone from the fatal COVID-19,” she said in a statement.
“The global pandemic has regrettably increased the social gap with uncertainty looming large over the poorest of poor, daily wagers and marginal farmers. On the auspicious occasion of Id, the well-off in our society should lend all support to the people in need,” National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah said.