Congregational Friday prayers were held for the first time at the historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar’s old city area since August 5 — the day the state’s special status was revoked. There have been no prayers for 19 consecutive Fridays at the mosque. A protest was held later, by some of those who had come to pray. Police said the situation remained peaceful.
Authorities started allowing prayers at the mosque since Wednesday.
Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who delivers the sermon at the mosque, however, continued to remain under detention at his home and was not allowed to go to the mosque on Friday.
On Friday afternoon, less than 1,000 people, mostly from nearby areas offered prayers at the mosque. Usually, thousands from different parts of the city are seen at the mosque on Fridays. Zubair Ahmad, a resident of the city’s Hawal area who has been regularly offering prayers at the mosque, told The Indian Express that during the previous months, he would visit the mosque every Friday, but would be turned back by the police “We were not allowed to pray here all these months, which has hurt my sentiments. Today, I am little bit relieved. It is 20th Friday today after August 5,” he said.
Outside the mosque, a strong presence of security personnel was established, and senior police officers were present on the spot.
Moulana Ahmad Sayeed Naqashbandi, the grand priest of the mosque who delivered the Friday sermon and led the prayers, condemned the authorities for not allowing prayers at the mosque since August 5.
Saying that the move to ban prayers at the mosque had started when People’s Democratic Party(PDP) Chief Mehbooba Mufti became the Chief Minister of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, Sayeed said such curbs are an attack on religious rights.
He also demanded the release of all political detainees in the Valley.
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