August 09, 2019
Passengers arrive from India at Lahore railway station in Pakistan, Thursday, Aug. 8, 2019. Pakistan’s federal minister for railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said that Islamabad has suspended a key train service with neighboring India over a change in Kashmir’s special status by New Delhi. Ahmad said the Express, or Friendship Express, train service was suspended from Thursday. K.M. CHAUDARY / AP PHOTO
By The Associated Press
NEW DELHI – A strict curfew keeping residents of Indian-controlled Kashmir in their homes for a fifth day was eased for Friday prayers, the police chief said.
The mostly Muslim region has been under an unprecedented security lockdown and near-total communications blackout to prevent unrest as India’s Hindu nationalist-led government announced it was revoking Kashmir’s special constitutional status and downgrading its statehood.
“People will be allowed to go to the area-specific mosques for the prayers in most parts of Srinagar city,” the region’s police chief, Dilbagh Singh, told The Associated Press on Friday.
The relaxing of the curfew in Kashmir’s main city was temporary but a precise timeframe wasn’t given. Friday prayers started at 12:37 p.m. in Srinagar and lasted for about 20 minutes.
Television images showed small groups of people offering prayers in local mosques.
“We see a sense of calm and normalcy (in Kashmir). There has been no incident of violence,” External Affairs Ministry spokesman Raveesh Kumar told reporters in New Delhi.
The Press Trust of India news agency earlier said authorities would allow people to offer prayers in small local mosques, but there would be no Friday congregation at the historic Jama Masjid where thousands of Muslim normally pray every week.
Jama Masjid has been a centre of regular anti-India protests after Friday prayers.