Police on Friday stopped All-Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who has been confined to his house for three years, from leaving his residence to offer prayers at Jamia Masjid at Nowhatta, days after Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said the Kashmir head cleric was not under house arrest.
When the Mirwaiz stepped out of his residence at Nigeen, police officials present outside the gate stopped him, citing security issues. “The Mirwaiz has threats against him. He has no security. He has been informed by the SP on Friday as well,” J&K Police ADGP for Kashmir Zone Vijay Kumar told The Indian Express. Since there is no provision as per the law for house arrest, Kumar clarified that “he is not under house arrest…he never was. He is allowed to visit the hospital. We are not allowing him to visit Jamia because of apprehensions related to law and order”.
Stating that even leaders are sometimes not allowed to travel when there are “security-related threats”, Kumar said, “He will have to give in writing that the public will not create a law-and-order situation at the Jamia Masjid.”
On Thursday, the Anjuman Auqaf, the body that oversees the functioning of the Jamia Masjid, had said that “all preparations have been made for the Friday sermon by the Mirwaiz and people are eagerly looking forward to seeing and hearing him”.
On Friday, Anjuman Auqaf expressed “strong disdain against the authorities for once again disallowing its incarcerated chairman and Mirwaiz-e-Kashmir Moulvi Muhammad Umar Farooq to address the faithful at the historic and central grand mosque after three years”.
“A large number of people who had come from across the Valley for the Friday prayers were once again deeply saddened. They expressed their anger and strongly protested against the illegal and arbitrary detention of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq,” the Anjuman said.
Prayers at the Jamia Masjid have been allowed only sporadically over the last three years. The Anjuman termed his continued detention “condemnable” while highlighting a statement of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, who in an interview with foreign media last week had claimed that the Mirwaiz was not under detention and that there were no restrictions placed upon him.
“Earlier, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had twice made similar statements in Parliament. However, on the ground, these claims are far from reality as was once again proved today [Friday] when Mirwaiz was forcibly stopped at the gate of his house.”