After Maharaja Rule, Jamia Masjid Witnesses Longest Ever ‘Lockdown’

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Restrictions Imposed
File Photo

No Friday prayers held at masjid for 18th straight week; tussle between admin, Auqaf continues, police says curbs lifted, Auqaf demands removal of forces from all gates

Owais Gul

Srinagar:  The ongoing ‘siege’ is turning out to be the longest in the past three decades when there have been no congregational prayers at Jamia Masjid Srinagar.

The grand Masjid remained closed for the devotees since August 5, when the central government abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir (Article 370) and bifurcated the erstwhile State into two Union Territories. Earlier, the grand masjid has been closed for 22-long years during the then Maharaja’s time.

According to the wire service—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the police said that restrictions imposed around the historic Jamia Masjid have been lifted after 15 weeks and the Jamia Auqaf was subsequently asked to offer prayers at the Masjid now.

However, the Auqaf is reluctant to offer prayers at the Masjid, demanding authorities to lift the forces deployment around the Masjid and release of Jamia Masjid’s head cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq from house detention first.

As per eye-witnesses, the main gate of Jamia Masjid remained open today while the four gates of the Masjid continued to remain locked. They said that although no restrictions were imposed in and around the Jamia Masjid but a huge contingent of police and paramilitary troopers were deployed around the Masjid since the wee hours of this morning.

An Auqaf member said that no prayer was offered in the Masjid since August 5. “The government has deprived us from offering prayers at the Masjid. The administration is now claiming to have lifted the restrictions, but forces could be seen manning the gates and the roads in and around the Masjid,” the Auqaf members said.

They said that forces should not be deployed around the Masjid. Zareef Ahmad Zareef, a prominent historian from Kashmir told KNO that it is for the first time after Maharaja rule that Jamia Masjid is witnessing no prayers for 18th consecutive week.

Earlier, the Jamia Masjid remained closed for 16 successive Fridays during the unrest in Kashmir in the year 2016 that erupted after the killing of a top Hizb militant, Burhan Muzaffar Wani.

 Zareef asid, the historic Jamia Masjid remained closed for prayers for 22 years during their rule from 1819-1846 in the Valley. The Masjid was turned into a cowshed during their rule. (KNO)

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