NEW DELHI (IANS) Eid-ul-Fitr, marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, was on Wednesday celebrated across India with religious fervour and gaiety, barring some places in Jammu and Kashmir where clashes erupted between stone-pelting youths and security forces after special festival prayers.
President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were among leaders who greeted the people on the occasion. The Prime Minister specially wished people in both English and Urdu through his Twitter account.
“May this special day ignite the spirit of harmony, compassion and peace in our society. May everyone be blessed with happiness,” Modi tweeted in English.
The tweet in Urdu read: “Eid-ul-Fitr ke parmusarrat mauqe par mubarakbaad. Khuda kare ke yeh khususi din, hamare mashre mein ham-aahang, rahm-dili aur aman ke jazbat ko farogh de. Har kas-o-nakas ki zindagi musarraton se hamkinar ho.”
Lakhs of people thronged hundreds of small and big mosques and Eidgah maidans across India, especially Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, as well as the northeastern and southern states, to celebrate the occasion, marking the end of 30-day fasting during the holy month of Ramadan.
Pakistan Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood, who is the former High Commissioner to India and was in India a private visit, offered prayers at Delhi’s 17th century Jama Masjid with his children.
A minor accident, however, occurred in the national capital when a motorist rammed his car into devotees emerging from a mosque in city’s Khureji area but police said no one was injured.
Scene of communal harmony marked the celebration in Hyderabad where non-Muslims joined their Muslim brethren at Eidgah or open grounds where ‘Namaz-e-Eid’ was offered in the morning.
Indian and Pakistan security forces also exchanged sweets and greetings on the Line of Control (LoC) and the International Border on the occasion.
Defence sources said that Indian soldiers greeted Pakistan soldiers on the LoC in Chakan Da Bagh area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district and the two sides exchanged sweets. Border Security Force troopers also exchanged greetings and sweets with Pakistani Rangers in J&K’s Samba and the Attari-Wagah joint border post in Punjab.
The BSF and the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) also exchanged greetings, flowers and sweets on the occasion.
According to a BSF official, senior officials of BSF and BGB accompanied by locally posted troopers greeted each other at many places along the 4,096-km Bangladesh frontier in West Bengal, Tripura, Assam, Mizoram and Meghalaya.
With the monsoon yet to set in, special morning prayers were held in open places in Kerala and drew huge crowds. Many wore new dresses and greeted one another after the prayers.
At all centres in the state, there were separate enclosures for women and children. At the popular Palayam Grand Mosque, the Shahi Imam, in his sermon, spoke against terrorism and extreme nationalism.
Mutton and beef stalls were crowded at most places since late Tuesday. Mutton prices soared to Rs 800 a kilo while beef was priced at Rs 380.
At Kochi, superstar Mammootty turned up at an Eid prayer session and interacted with the devout.
Except Jammu and Kashmir, the festival was celebrated peacefully almost across India.
In Srinagar, scores of masked men displaying Islamic State, and Pakistan national flags appeared on the streets of the old city’s Nowhatta area and raised pro-Pakistan slogans.
Immediately after the Eid prayers, scores of masked men came out with IS and Lashkar-e-Taiba flags and raised slogans like “Musa, Musa, Zakir Musa”, “Hum Kya Chahte Azadi, Azadi”, “Pakistan Zindabad” and displaying posters carrying pictures of militants.
They marched through the streets, and dozens of other youths joined them until security forces intercepted them after half a kilometre from the Jamia Masjid.
The marchers then pelted stones at the security forces, who resorted to tear smoke and pellet guns to disperse the crowd.
Earlier, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq, delivering the sermon at the historic Jamia Masjid, called for India and Pakistan to engage in “meaningful dialogue”
“Our people have made huge sacrifices and unless India and Pakistan engage in a meaningful dialogue, the problem will persist,” he said, urging the new political dispensation at the Centre to stop the “military approach” to resolve the Kashmir issue.
Clashes were also witnessed in Sopore, Anantnag and Kupwara in the Kashmir Valley after Eid prayers.