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J&K: Court Issues Notice to Admin Over Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's Detention

Anees Zargar |
Farooq has been under house arrest since August 4, 2019, a day before the Central government revoked Article 370 and Article 35A.
J&K: Court Issues Notice to Admin Over Mirwaiz Umar Farooq's Detention

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday issued a notice to the Lt Governor-led administration seeking its response to a petition filed on behalf of the incarcerated chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, against his house arrest.   

Mirwaiz's lawyer, Nazir Ahmad Ronga, told NewsClick that the court has sought a response from the administration by October 4. 

Quoting the petition, Ronga said that Mirwaiz was a leading religious head of the region and, due to his "illegal confinement", was not able to fulfil his obligation of delivering Friday sermons and offering and leading Friday prayers in Srinagar's Central Jama Masjid, for the last four years of detention. 

"That Mirwaiz is a strong advocate of peace not only in the UT of J&K but also in the entire sub-continent. He is a firm believer in universal brotherhood, religious tolerance and coexistence. Due to his detention, he is suffering from health and mental issues, and his livelihood is also at stake," Ronga argued. 

The counsel added that they sought Mirwaiz's release and asked for non-interference with his liberty and the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. 

A statement issued by Anjuman Auqaf Jama Masjid said that even as the state authorities claim the Mirwaiz is "not detained", he is neither allowed to move out of his house nor allowed to go to Jama Masjid on Fridays for sermons and prayers for more than four years now. 

The Anjuman added that despite repeated appeals and requests from all quarters to the authorities, he is not being released from house arrest; he was placed under house arrest on August 4, 2019, a day before the Central government revoked Article 370 and Article 35A. 

"There are restrictions on people to meet him as police and paramilitary personnel and vehicles are permanently stationed outside his entrance gates on both sides of his house who don't allow him to move out," the statement read. 

The Anjuman said that a legal notice was sent to the authorities three weeks ago about the status of his detention and the release of Mirwaiz, but no written response was received to the notice, following which a writ petition was filed in the J&K High Court by the legal team. 

The petition urged the court to issue an order asking the authorities to lift the siege outside Mirwaiz's residence at Nigeen, Hazratbal. The petition also submitted that the chief cleric be allowed to deliver his Friday sermons and lead the Friday religious prayers at the central mosque in Nowhatta. 

Devotees from across Kashmir valley, including mainstream political leadership, have slammed the detention of Mirwaiz and decried his absence from the Jama Masjid. The authorities, including Lt Governor Manoj Sinha, have earlier said that Mirwaiz is free to move and that the security cover around him is meant for his safety. 

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