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J&K: Friday Prayers Barred at Central Jama Masjid

Anees Zargar |
The move has been termed "reprehensible" by Anjuman Auqaf, a body that oversees the mosque.
J&K: Friday Prayers Barred at Central Jama Masjid

Srinagar: Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir once again barred the congregational prayers at Kashmir's central mosque Jamia Masjid in Srinagar on Friday, a move termed "reprehensible" by Anjuman Auqaf, a body that oversees the mosque.

Condemning the practice of repeatedly barring Muslims from performing what they called an important religious duty, the Auqaf body, in a statement, said that a magistrate and senior police officials came to the mosque and informed them that the Friday prayers would not be allowed at the Jamia Masjid.

"While millions of Muslims from all over the world are assembling at Arafat in Makkah as part of Hajj, it is deeply regrettable and reprehensible that on such a great occasion, the Muslims of Kashmir were once again not allowed by the authorities to offer prayers at the historic Central Jama Masjid in Srinagar," an official spokesperson said.

Scores of devotees expressed disappointment over the move after arriving at the mosque to find it shut for the prayers. On special occasions such as today, hundreds from across the valley visit the mosque, considered auspicious for prayers.

"It is the worst of times for us as we are not able to fulfil our religious duty due to the continuous crackdown by the government. The cruelty has reached such an extent that only God can save us now," one of the devotees said.

Built in the 14th century, Jamia Masjid is the largest mosque in Kashmir and one of the oldest. It has, over the centuries, emerged as one of the region's major centres of politics and social and religious reform. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who preaches at the mosque, remains incarcerated at his Srinagar residence since the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A on August 5, 2019.

Since then, the mosque had mostly remained shut, including for the time when prayers were not allowed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prayers, however, were allowed in March this year after months of demands by the Anjuman and other religious bodies.

The Anjuman added that a resolution passed by Muttahida Majlis-e-Ulema (MMU), a conglomerate of more than a dozen religious bodies, on Thursday was read out at Friday congregations by Khateebs and Imams in major mosques, khanqahs, imambaras and shrines across the valley. During their weekly address, they condemned the administration's policy of not allowing Friday prayers at the Central Jama Masjid Srinagar.

"They also raised voice against the three-year detention of the MMU patron and the top-most religious leader of Kashmir, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and demanded his unconditional release before Eid," the body said.

The day coincided with the sixth anniversary of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani in 2016, whose death triggered a valley-wide public agitation for months.

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