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Muslims celebrate Eid despite severe crackdown in Kashmir

By
Nicholas Sakelaris
Hundreds of Muslims pray Monday in Bhopal, India, following the holy Eid celebrations. Photo by Sanjeev Gupta/EPA-EFE 
Hundreds of Muslims pray Monday in Bhopal, India, following the holy Eid celebrations. Photo by Sanjeev Gupta/EPA-EFE 

Aug. 12 (UPI) -- The Muslim celebration of Eid-al-Adha was held in the India-administered region of Kashmir Sunday, without its traditional autonomy for the first time in decades -- amid increased security and a communications blackout.

Strict new rules were introduced last week after protesters clashed with police in Srinagar, the main city in Kashmir. Police fired tear gas and opened fire on the demonstrators for violating curfew.

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Eid is the holiest Muslim celebration and marks the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. By tradition, the families sacrifice an animal and split it into three parts -- one for the family, one for friends and relatives and one for the poor and needy.

The Indian affairs ministry said prayers went ahead peacefully in mosques in Anantnag, Baramulla, Budgam and Bandipore "without any untoward incident." Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the people of Kashmir would not have any troubled celebrating Eid, and added the situation would return to normal gradually.

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Nearly 10,000 people gathered in Baramulla, the ministry said, and another 5,000 in Bandipora. The communications blackout imposed after India suspended Kahmir's special autonomous status last week -- to prevent large anti-government protests -- continues.

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Tens of thousands of Indian troops have also been deployed to the region.

Some found a way to get around the restrictions. Mobile vans were used to deliver food and supplies needed for Eid celebrations and special telephone booths were established to help people communicate with relatives in the phone blackout.

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A new rule was also imposed that prohibits non-residents from buying land in Kashmir, an attempt to stop the flood of outsiders in India's only Muslim majority state. The restricts were lifted Saturday so people could shop for Eid but were reimposed Sunday.

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