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J&K Authorities Seal Srinagar's Jamia Masjid to Prevent Pro-Palestine Protests

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who was recently released from house arrest and would have led the Friday prayers at the mosque, was reportedly put under house arrest again.
The main gate of Jamia Masjid is shut as worshippers were turned away by police on Friday. Photo: Mohammad Syeed Shawl

Srinagar: Authorities sealed Jamia Masjid, Kashmir’s largest mosque, in capital Srinagar on Friday (October 13), while senior Hurriyat leader and chairman of his faction of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, was one again reportedly put under house arrest.

According to reports, the decision to close the historical mosque situated in Nowhatta locality of downtown Srinagar was taken due to apprehensions that worshippers might stage protests or take out demonstrations against Israel’s actions in Gaza and in support of Palestine.

Nowhatta, which is situated in the heart of downtown Srinagar, used to be an epicentre of anti-India sentiment. Pro-Palestine and anti-Israel protests were frequently reported from the Jamia Masjid before the Union government read down Article 370 and clamped down on protesters in Kashmir.

A member of Anjuman Auqaf Jama Masjid (AAJM), the managing body of Kashmir’s largest mosque, told The Wire that a team of police officials closed the gates of Jama Masjid ahead of the congregational afternoon prayers on Friday and worshippers were turned away.

A TV reporter standing in front of Jamia Masjid in Srinagar on Friday which was closed by authorities due to fears of pro-Palestine protests. Photo: Mohammad Syeed Shawl

Security deployment in and around the historical mosque was also stepped up, apparently to prevent any law and order problems, according to officials and witnesses. “We were informed that Friday prayers will not be allowed today. No explanation was provided by police,” the AAJM member said.

Senior Hurriyat leader and moderate Hurriyat chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who was released last week after more than four years of house arrest, was again place under house arrest on Friday at his Nigeen residence in Srinagar, according to an aide of the senior separatist leader.

The senior Hurriyat leader, who delivers the main sermon at the mosque on Fridays and other important days of the Islamic calendar, was disallowed from coming out of his residence without any written order, the aide said, wishing to remain anonymous.

While there was no official explanation on the decision to close the Jamia Masjid, reports said that authorities had apprehensions of anti-Israel and pro-Palestine protests breaking out at the mosque following the culmination of Friday prayers.

According to reports, hundreds of police and paramilitary have been deployed in sensitive areas of Kashmir to thwart any protests amid the ongoing escalation in Gaza, where a ground invasion by the Israeli forces is looming large.

Meanwhile, sporadic demonstrations were carried out in central Kashmir’s Budgam and Kargil district of Ladakh on Friday in protest against Israel’s assault on Gaza following the Hamas attack.

Anjuman-e-Sharie Shian, J&K, a Shia grouping, took out a procession against Israel and the United States and in support of the people of Palestine in Budgam town of central Kashmir on Friday afternoon.

Shia protesters taking out a demonstration in Budgam against Israel’s looming invasion of Gaza. Photo: Umar Farooq

Security deployment was stepped up in Budgam to prevent any law and order problems during a protest by Shias against the situation in Gaza. Photo: Umar Farooq

Security deployment was beefed up in the town as dozens of residents led by local Shia leaders and activists marched with placards reading ‘Death to America, Death to Israel’, ’America, Israel, you have no honour’ and other slogans to express their solidarity with the people of Palestine.

“We stand with our brothers and sisters of Palestine. We stand with the fighters of Palestine. Any attack on people in Palestine is an attack of Muslims,” said Mir Jaffar, a resident of Budgam who participated in the protests.

Hundreds of protesters also marched in Kargil town of Ladakh on Friday, calling on the United States and Israel to put an end to the aggression on Gaza and the people of Palestine. The protest was organised by Jamiat Ul Ulama Isna Asharia.

Security deployment was stepped up in Budgam to prevent any law and order problems during a protest by Shias against the situation in Gaza. Photo: Umar Farooq

Many protesters were seen waving the flag of Palestine as they marched on the main road shouting slogans like ‘Allah-u-Akbar’ (God is great) to express their solidarity with the people of Gaza.

Meanwhile, several imams (priests) across Kashmir raised the ongoing situation in Gaza in their sermons while praying for the safety and security of the people of Palestine.

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