SRINAGAR—Congregational prayers were again disallowed at the historic Jama Masjid on Friday.
Nobody was allowed to enter the mosque and offer ‘namaz’. This is not the first time that ‘namaz’ has been banned in the mosque.
Anjuman Auqaf Jama Masjid Srinagar said since August 6, 2021, authorities are not allowing Friday prayers at the historic mosque and other major places including Dargah Hazratbal, Khanqah-e-Moula, Sultan-ul-Arifeen Hazrat Makhdoom Sahib (RA), Astana Aaliya Khanyar and Astaan Aaliya Naqshband Sahib (RA).
“This has led to public outrage. Such dictatorial measures have severely hurt the religious sentiments of the people who have been prevented from performing their religious duties,” Anjuman said in a statement.
Anjuman said, on one hand, the authorities order closure of religious places under the guise of COVID-19 and on the other they allow the opening of public places, parks, bazaars, and educational institutions. “Such policies reveal double standards and ill intentions of the government,” Anjuman said.
The authorities allowed the Janam Ashtami procession last month amid tight security. Plus all government functions, sports activities, wedding receptions, and other gatherings are being allowed in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Worshipers coming to Jamia Masjid for Friday prayers take full care of COVID-19 SOPs. To prevent people from performing their religious duty is a clear interference in religion which is extremely unfortunate and condemnable,” Anjuman said.
This is not the first time when Jamia Masjid has been shut for prayers. The mosque was locked for successive 17 weeks post-August 5, 2019 when the Centre revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. During the 2016 unrest, no Friday prayers could be held for 16 weeks in the historic Jamia Masjid at Nowhatta area in the Old Srinagar city.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is the chief cleric of Kashmir and chairman of the moderate Hurriyat Conference is under house arrest since August 5, 2019.
On August 25, Anjuman Aufaq Jamia Masjid commemorated the 32nd anniversary of operation Jamia Masjid, when the central mosque was ransacked by men in uniform. On a fateful day in 1989, forces entered the mosque when most of the ‘namazis’ had left. Three hundred people were detained and taken to police camps. Later, 270 were released and 30 arrested.
During Sikh rule, the mosque was closed for 21 years. According to Wikipedia, the mosque faced closure under the Sikh regime of Maharaja Ranjit Singh beginning in 1819 AD, when the then Governor of Srinagar, Moti Ram, put curbs on offering prayers in Jamia Masjid.
“No prayers were offered and no call for prayers was given from the mosque. It was reopened by Governor, Ghulam Muhi-ud-Din, in 1843 who spent nearly a lakh and a half of rupees on its repair. But for 11 years, rulers allowed prayers only on Fridays. The mosque would be opened for just a few hours on Fridays and closed again,” the online site said.
Jamia Masjid is not the only religious place that has witnessed upheaval. Earlier, Sufi shrine of Hazrat Sheikh Noor-ud-din Noorani at Charar-e-Sharief was gutted in a gunfight between militants led by Pakistani `Major’ Mast Gul and the army in 1995. The entire township was razed to the ground but Mast Gul mysteriously escaped from the scene and crossed the LoC into PoK.