Eid al-Adha a muted affair in J&K amid COVID-19 restrictions

Coronavirus-induced restrictions put a dampener on Eid al-Adha celebrations in Kashmir on Saturday, with most of the faithful marking the festival of sacrifice by offering prayers in small groups and observing social distancing in view of the pandemic.

No prayers were offered in major mosques and shrines of Kashmir, for the third time in a row, as police enforced the strict restrictions in most parts of the valley, including Srinagar city, officials said.

While Eid-ul-Fitr prayers could not be offered in May this year due to the coronavirus-induced lockdown, Eid al-Adha prayers could not be offered last year in Kashmir as authorities had imposed a curfew in the wake of the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

Concertina wires and barricades were placed at many intersections in the city to prevent free movement of people, the officials said.

People preferred to offer Eid prayers at home, either individually or in small groups comprising family members only, the officials said.

However, reports of congregational prayers being offered in mosques located in the interior parts of cities and towns have been received, they said.

Early in the morning, police personnel made announcements via public address systems and appealed to people not to congregate for Eid prayers as the threat of coronavirus is still prevalent in the valley.

Thousands of sheep and goats were sacrificed by Muslims across the valley to mark the tradition of Prophet Ibrahim, according to the officials.

But the number of animals sacrificed this year was much less than usual in view of the COVID-19 threat.

Though most of the political leaders who were put under preventive or other forms of detention after the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status last year have been released, they had to remain confined to their homes on Eid.

Usually, residences of prominent politicians like Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Imran Ansari and Sajad Lone would receive a steady stream of party workers and well-wishers on Eid, but this time they could not do so.

Some of the leaders took to Twitter to greet people.

“Eid mubarak to all of you,” National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah tweeted.

Lone and Mehbooba, chiefs of People”s Conference and Peoples Democratic Party, respectively, also posted Eid greetings on the microblogging site.