Terming the NIA summons to Hurriyat Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to appear in Delhi in a terror funding case as a “direct interference in the religious affairs of Muslims”, all religious leaders across the divide rallied behind him on Tuesday.
Signalling a new faultline, this is the first time religious leaders in Jammu and Kashmir across the Shia-Sunni, Salafi-Sufi divide have come together against what they call the government’s crackdown.
The NIA, investigating a case related to terror funding in Kashmir, carried out a series of raids on separatists, including the Mirwaiz — head of the moderate Hurriyat faction — and summoned him for questioning in Delhi. Citing a threat to his personal security, Mirwaiz declined to travel to Delhi and offered to be questioned in Srinagar. Earlier, his security was also withdrawn.
Why it touches Valley raw nerve
Mirwaiz is not just chairman of the moderate Hurriyat but also the chief priest at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid. NIA summons comes after his security was withdrawn and house raided. Protest meetings in his solidarity show the significance of the religious institution he heads — and anger on the street.
“It (NIA notice to Mirwaiz) is a direct interference in religious affairs of Muslims… Mirwaiz is not just a political leader but also a religious head of people of Kashmir,” read a resolution passed by the heads of over 20 religious organisations after a meeting in Srinagar. “Any attempt to harass him, as the NIA notice is one, will be strongly opposed as it will deeply hurt the sentiments and feelings of people across the State”.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq took over as Mirwaiz of Kashmir — a 300-year-old religious institution — after the killing of his father Maulvi Mohammad Farooq in 1990 by suspected militants. It was this institution that played a significant role in the uprising against Dogra rulers in 1931.
Srinagar’s grand mosque, where Mirwaiz Umar Farooq delivers Friday sermons, has been the seat of this institution for over a century.
They condemned the ban on Jamat-e-Islami and the crackdown against its leadership and activists. “The meeting strongly condemns the imposition of ban on Jamat-e-Islami, and arrest of its leaders and cadres and calls it a blatant interference in religious affairs,” said Mufti Nasir while reading the resolution. “The meeting also condemns the crackdown on the resistance leadership, killings, and harassment of people”.
“We discussed the prevailing situation, especially the assault by New Delhi on the leadership seeking a resolution of Kashmir, on socio-religious organisations and the new crackdown,” said Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam, Grand Mufti of Kashmir.
On Tuesday, trade bodies of the Valley took a stand against “repeated harassment of leaders, institutions and organisations.”