Despite no limits, Mirwaiz shies away from Jamia Masjid

Despite no limits, Mirwaiz shies away from Jamia Masjid

Nowhatta and its adjoining areas are bastions of Valley’s head priest and separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar and are considered as the hotbed of ‘azadi’ sentiment in the region.

Even as life is limping back to normalcy in Kashmir post abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, no Friday congregational prayers were offered at historic Jamia Masjid in the old city, here, for the 19th consecutive week. 

As per the officials, there have been no restrictions to offer Friday congregational prayers in the central mosque in congested Nowhatta area of the old city, since November 15. Nowhatta and its adjoining areas are bastions of Valley’s head priest and separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and are considered as the hotbed of ‘azadi’ sentiment in the region.

“Last month a team of officials approached the Mirwaiz and verbally informed him that there were no restrictions on Friday congregational prayers at the Jamia Masjid. He (Mirwaiz) was also told that he was free to resume pronouncing Friday sermons from the mosque pulpits,” sources said.
However, they said, the head priest “turned down the proposal on health grounds.” 

“Mirwiaz told the officials that he was suffering from some back problem and was not in a position to deliver the Friday sermon at Jamia Masjid. Since then there has been no word from his side,” sources revealed.

On the other hand, the management committee of the Jamia Masjid has been demanding complete withdrawal of security forces from the area “before any prayers could be held in the grand mosque.”

“Deployment of troops in and around Jamia Masjid compound is a hurdle and unless, they are not withdrawn, no prayers could be organised,” the management committee in a recent statement to media, said.

However, insiders say, that Mirwaiz was reluctant to resume delivering Friday sermons over the issue of “what to sermonise to the people from the pulpit of the central mosque in the prevailing circumstances.”

Over the years, Mirwaiz would deliver hard-hitting political and anti-India speeches from Jamia Masjid every Friday. Seen as a moderate face of the Hurriyat over the years, he is among a very few politicians in Kashmir, who were not taken into custody post abrogation of the special status of J&K under Article 370 on August 5.

However, the Hurriyat dove was questioned by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in New Delhi earlier this year in alleged terror funding cases. Since then, he has toned down and he didn’t criticize policies of New Friday during his speeches at Jamia Masjid till August 5.

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