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J&K: Authorities bar Friday Prayers at Historic Jamia Masjid for 7th Week; Devotees Angry

The J&K administration in Kashmir imposed the restriction to discourage people from protesting in solidarity with Palestinians killed in Gaza.
Jamia Masjid

Srinagar: Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir barred congregational Friday prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar’s Nowhatta for the consecutive seventh week triggering sharp criticism from the residents and devotees.

The management of the region’s central mosque, Anjuman Auqaf, expressed strong resentment against the move by the administration to bar the devotees from participating in the prayers.

In a statement, the body also slammed the administration for placing top cleric Mirwaiz Kashmir, who addresses the weekly gathering at the mosque, under house detention. They termed the restrictions on Mirwaiz as “extremely unfortunate” and “reprehensible”.

“On one hand, the government claims every day that the situation in Kashmir is normal, but it is a pity that contrary to these claims, even on the seventh Friday, Jama Masjid was forcibly closed and the top religious leader of Kashmir, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq kept under house detention. This way, the centuries-old minbar (pulpitand mihrab (niche in the mosque wall that indicates direction for prayers) of Jama Masjid – the great place of worship in Kashmir – were again silent,” the Auqaf’s statement read.

The fresh restrictions on the weekly congregational prayers were put on the mosque since Israel launched its deadly war on the Palestinians and the occupied territories of Gaza that has killed over 14000 since October 8.

The authorities in Kashmir imposed the restriction to discourage people from protesting in solidarity with the Palestinians fearing spill over. Mirwaiz has since issued statements expressing solidarity with the besieged people of Palestine on behalf of the Kashmiris.

The management body referring to it as a “hostile behaviour” of the administration towards Jama Masjid and Mirwaiz-e-Kashmir termed it as “incomprehensible”.

“If Mirwaiz Kashmir has been released from detention, then why is Jama Masjid being targeted and Mirwaiz Sahib not allowed to perform his religious responsibilities,” the Anjuman said.

According to the body, such actions hurt the religious sentiments of the people and tantamount to interfering in religious matters. It also urged the administration to alter its policy towards the key mosque and Mirwaiz amidst calls for removing the restrictions.

Pertinently, Mirwaiz was released earlier in September this after he served four years of house detention in the wake of abrogation of Articles 370 and 35 A on August 5, 2019. The prayers in Jamia Masjid were also barred for months against which the locals has expressed serious resentment.

“It is very unfortunate that the authorities due to its own insecurities stop people from performing their religious duties. It has become a norm and we are hapless. The government should be more accommodative and look at the matter from the humanitarian perspective,” a local who lives close to the mosque said.

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