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Eid Prayers Not Allowed at Srinagar's Jamia Masjid, Mirwaiz 'Under House Arrest' Again

Police personnel locked the gates of the mosque after morning prayers on Wednesday without any written explanation, the mosque's managing committee said.
The historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar. Photo: Ubaid Mukhtar

New Delhi: Authorities have disallowed congregational Eid prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar, which was locked for worshippers on Wednesday (April 10) morning while moderate Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was again put under house arrest.

In a statement, Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid, the managing body of the 14th-century mosque in Srinagar’s Nowhatta locality, said that the police personnel locked the gates of the mosque after morning prayers on Wednesday without any written explanation.

The Anjuman said that the authorities informed them on Wednesday morning that the congregational Eid prayers, which were scheduled for 9:30 am, would not be allowed at the mosque. “Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was again placed under house arrest early morning today,” the statement said.

Eid is being celebrated across Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday after the crescent was sighted in Kargil district of Ladakh on Tuesday evening. In the rest of the country, the festival, which marks the culmination of the Muslim month of fasting Ramzan, will be observed on Thursday.

After the Union government read down Article 370 and downgraded the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories, authorities have not allowed the Anjuman to organise Eid prayers at Jamia Masjid, citing fears of law and order problems breaking out in the sensitive downtown Srinagar where the historic mosque is located.

Earlier, Jamia, which is the biggest mosque of J&K, was also shut for congregational prayers on Shab-e-Qadr and Jumat-Ul-Vida while Mirwaiz was put under house arrest on these occasions too. He was also stopped from addressing a press conference at his Srinagar residence.

Mirwaiz had said that the closure of the mosque was akin to “spiritual oppression” and an “attack on the religious freedom and rights of Kashmiri Muslims”. “The insensitivity shown by these closures is a clear indication of a lack of respect and understanding. This spiritual oppression of Kashmiri Muslims must end now,” he said.

Mirwaiz told The Wire that the “blatant disregard for the religious and emotional sentiments of the Muslim community in Kashmir” was “unacceptable and deeply offensive”. “It is beyond comprehension how authorities can repeatedly target the largest place of worship and put me under house arrest in such a critical time, causing distress and suffering among the faithful.”

Authorities allowed the moderate Hurriyat chairman, who is also the chief cleric of Kashmir, to offer Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid for the first time during Ramzan after August 5, 2019. This was the fourth time he offered prayers since his release in September last year, according to the Anjuman.

Earlier this month, Darakshan Andrabi, who heads the J&K Wakf board, the managing body of some important shrines and mosques in the union territory, said that Eidgah ground in Srinagar, where congregational Eid prayers were held in the past, was also not fit for hosting the Eid prayers.

“The ground is shabby. Our people have ruined it over the years and it looks more like a playfield. It will take a lot of time and resources for restoration. A new pulpit is being made and a tender has already been floated. But when the ground is not proper, how will the (Eid) prayer be hosted there?” Andrabi had said.

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