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Violence mars Eid in Kashmir; Farooq Abdullah heckled

Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah was heckled during Eid prayers at the 17th century Hazratbal mosque in Srinagar on Wednesday, two days after he chanted ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai‘ during a prayer meeting for former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Meanwhile, the celebrations of Eid-Al-Azha were marred by violence in Srinagar when stone-pelters came out on the streets and waved flags of Pakistan and the dreaded terrorist group Islamic State.

The National Conference leader remained unfazed and continued with his prayers, saying the jeering and booing were by his ‘own people’ who were misguided.

A section of the gathering shouted slogans of ‘Farooq Abdullah go back’ and ‘Hum kya chahte, azaadi‘ at the Hazratbal mosque, where Abdullah has traditionally offered Eid prayers.

When a section of slogan shouting youths tried to approach Abdullah, who was sitting on a chair in the front row because of his ill-health, some people joined hands to make a human chain to prevent them from doing so.

Security personnel also threw a ring around the Lok Sabha MP from Srinagar to protect him.

“I did not leave the venue and completed my prayers. They are my own people. They are misguided and I cannot escape my duties of being their leader,” Abdullah told PTI while receiving people at his residence.

“Some people were agitated but that does not mean I will escape. I have a task of keeping everyone united,” he said.

Abdullah wondered why the issue was being blown out of proportion by a section of the media.

“A politician, at times, has to face people’s anger. I only hope these misguided youths are counselled properly,” he said.

On August 20, Abdullah had made an emotional speech and chanted “Bharat Mata ki Jai” during a prayer meeting for the late BJP stalwart Vajpayee in New Delhi.

Meanwhile, in Srinagar, in a bid to disrupt peace, the demonstrators chanted slogans and clashed with police personnel on duty in the Eidgah area, soon after Eid prayers.

They also pelted stones at the security personnel, who were trying to disperse them.

Earlier in May, a tourist from Tamil Nadu’s Chennai lost his life in stone-pelting, a few days after the vehicle of a district judge from Bengaluru, who was on a holiday with his family, was pelted with stones. Around the same time, a bus carrying school students was also attacked by unruly stone-pelters in Zawoora village of Shopian district.

The rampant incidents of stone-pelting in Jammu and Kashmir have become a matter of concern for the state administration, with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman condemning the same, saying that although the armed forces cannot be held responsible for being firm with terrorists, it is extremely important to ensure safer movement of tourists to restore normalcy.

With ANI inputs

All photographs: Umar Ganie/Rediff.com

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