Friday prayers allowed at central Jamia Masjid after 30 weeks
By AHMAD MAJID
Srinagar, March 4: After a gap of 30 weeks, the authorities allowed Friday congregational prayers at Srinagar’s Grand Mosque, the Jamia Masjid in the old city Nowhatta area.
Prayers at the mosque have only been allowed sparingly since the abrogation of Jammu and Kashmir’s special status on August 5, 2019. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who led Friday prayers at the Jamia Masjid, continues to remain in house detention since.
Sources said “there is a discussion within the establishment to allow for Mirwaiz Farooq’s release ahead of Ramzan” which begins in the first week of April.
As the again rang out after 30 consecutive weeks, the mosque was packed to capacity with worshippers returning to its halls. Octogenarian religious scholar Imam Hai Moulana Ahmad Syed Naqshbandi delivered a Friday sermon and appealed for the release of the mosque’s head priest, Mirwaiz Farooq.
The area in the middle of the old town has, in the past, also been a site of protests after Friday prayers. In his address, the imam emphasised that “the repeated ban on Friday prayers at the grand mosque is a cause of anxiety and restlessness among people and a violation of their fundamental human right to practice religion.”
Earlier this week, the Divisional Commissioner (Kashmir) had visited the mosque complex along with police officers to take stock of the repair and refurbishing work at the mosque.
While the most recent shutdown at the mosque began after the first week of August 2020, Friday prayers here were disallowed by the administration for 26 weeks in 2019 and 21 weeks in 2020. Mirwaiz Farooq himself has been in detention for over 1,200 days in the last six years.
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