"Demilitarise Jamia Masjid Area, Allow Prayers Without Hassles", Demands Kashmir Anjuman Auquaf
Ishfaq-ul-Hassan | India Tomorrow
SRINAGAR, NOVEMBER 29— For the first time in more than three decades, historic Jamia Masjid here has been locked for successive 17 weeks with neither `namaz' being offered nor `azaan’ being called by devotees since August 5 when Centre revoked special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 and divided the state into two union territories.
During 2016 unrest, no Friday prayers could be held for 16 weeks in the historic Jamia Masjid at Nowhatta area in the Old Srinagar city.
Anjuman Auquaf Jamia Masjid has asked government to demilitarize Jamia Masjid area and remove all the forces from its surroundings so that people could come to offer prayers without any fear.
“There is an atmosphere of fear. Security forces are deployed outside the gates of the Masjid. How can people come and offer prayers when hundreds of forces personnel are standing outside the mosque?” asked Shams-ur-Rehman, close aide of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chief cleric of Kashmir.
For the last 116 days, Kashmir has been simmering against the abrogation of Article 370 and division of state into two union territories. “The record of 2016 has been broken today. No Friday prayers were allowed for 16 Fridays in 2016. Today, it is 17th Friday when prayers were not held in the mosque”, he said.
Anjuman Auquaf has also dropped the condition for release of Mirwaiz in an apparent bid to stay safe from politics. “If they are not releasing Mirwaiz, let them remove the forces. Mirwaiz, we can understand, is a political figure. People from far off areas come to offer prayers at Jamia. Government should make proper announcement so that people can come and offer prayers. Otherwise, they are playing cat and mouse game”, said Shams.
Anjuman Auquaf said cleansing of mosque is necessary before any namaz could be held. “It has been shut for 17 weeks. We need to cleanse the mosque before namaz could be offered. It all depends on government as to when they will remove forces from Jamia”, he said.
Post-abrogation of Article 370, J&K government has not allowed any major congregational prayers including Eid prayers in big mosques and shrines fearing those may be converted into pro-Azadi groundswell.
A 400 year old tradition to offer congregational Asr namaz(Khoje Digar) on third Rabi-ul-Awwal was broken when new Union Territory (UT) administration disallowed the prayers and sealed all entry and exit points to prevent devotees from reaching the revered shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Naqashband Sahab in old Srinagar city.
Anger swept across Kashmir after curfew like restrictions were imposed in different parts of Srinagar city to prevent people from congregating at revered Dargah Hazratbal shrine to mark Eid Milad-un-Nabi.