J&K: After 138-days, prayers offered at Jamia Masjid

J&K: After 138-days, prayers offered at Jamia Masjid

People offer congregational prayers at historical Jamia Masjid, in Downtown Srinagar. (PTI Photo)

For the first time since August 5, when the Center abrogated special status of J&K under Article 370, Friday congregational prayers were offered at historic Jamia Masjid, here, on Friday.

The 600-year-old mosque was opened the first time for routine prayers on Wednesday after 136 days when security was removed from the four main gates of the mosque. However, this was for the first weekly congregational prayer at the Jamia Masjid located in congested Nowhatta area of old city.

Reports said after the prayers were over, a small group of people carrying anti-Modi banners held a protest in the lawns of the Jamia Masjid. However, they dispersed off peacefully later.

Reports said several drones were hovering in the sky in the area keeping an eye on protesters. In Nowhatta and adjoining areas, authorities had deployed police and paramilitary forces in large numbers to deal with any eventuality.

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

However, Mirwaiz didn’t appear to pronounce Friday sermon from the mosque pulpits. A local news gathering agency reported that the Mirwaiz continues to remain under detention at his posh Nigeen residents, here.

Emotional scenes were witnessed as elderly men were seen kissing the walls of the grand old masjid. “This place is our spiritual centre. We missed its aura and ambience for the last more than four and a half months. Thanks to Allah that this place is again open for worshippers,” said Shabir Ahmad, a resident of nearby Hawal locality.

Last Friday DH had carried a detailed report regarding the reasons why prayers were not being held in the central masjid. While authorities had been saying there were no restrictions to offer prayers in the Jamia Masjid since November 15, the management committee of the mosque had been demanding complete withdrawal of security forces from the area “before any prayers could be held.”

“Since there was no presence of security forces at the gates of the Jamia Masjid for the last few days, we decided to hold prayers again,” a volunteer of the Masjid told DH.

On the absence of Mirwaiz, he said, “Mirwaiz sahib is undergoing detention and was not allowed to move out to deliver Friday sermon.”

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