Mirwaiz delivers Friday sermon after 4 years; calls for dialogue, reconciliation

The release of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who heads the separatist Hurriyat Conference, comes days after he moved the Jammu and Kashmir High Court

Updated - September 22, 2023 08:57 pm IST

Published - September 22, 2023 07:54 pm IST - SRINAGAR

Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is surrounded by supporters as he leaves Jamia Masjid after attending Friday prayers in Srinagar on September 22, 2023. 

Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is surrounded by supporters as he leaves Jamia Masjid after attending Friday prayers in Srinagar on September 22, 2023.  | Photo Credit: Reuters

Kashmir’s chief cleric and Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was allowed to deliver Friday sermon at Srinagar’s historic Jamia Masjid after four long years . He stressed for a resolution of the Kashmir problem through dialogue and reconciliation as an alternative to violent means.  

Under a heavy security cover, Mr. Farooq arrived at the Jamia Masjid around noon and was received by an emotional crowd of men and women, who threw garlands at him. 

Mr. Farooq, who broke down while starting his Friday sermon from the pulpit for the first time since 2019, said, “Since August 2019, it has not been easy on you [people]. There have been assaults on our identity. The abrogation, downgrading of J&K into a Union Territory, dismemberment of Ladakh and the new laws and diktats were harsh, and unilateral decisions of disempowerment.”

The Lieutenant Governor administration’s move to release Mr. Farooq comes days after the J&K High Court sought a reply from the administration over the “house detention”. Mr. Farooq had approached the court in the wake of J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha’s remarks that he was not placed under any house arrest. However, Mr. Farooq claimed security forces were disallowing him to step out of his Srinagar residence.  

On the Kashmir issue, Mr. Farooq said history bears witness that he always propagated dialogue and accord, even at the cost of personal loss and suffering. 

“I and my colleagues in the Hurriyat have always believed that by virtue of the fact that a part of J&K is in India, a part with Pakistan and some part with China too, makes the state of Jammu and Kashmir as its existed in August 1947 and its people divided, and so an issue which has to be addressed and resolved,” Mr. Farooq said.

Referring to the statement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that “this is not an era of war”, Mr. Farooq said, “We have always believed and participated in efforts of resolution through an alternative to violent means, which is dialogue and reconciliation. We have personally suffered for pursuing this route . We are not so-called separatists or peace disrupters but realist resolution seekers.”

He said the Hurriyat believe in peaceful coexistence between communities and nations, between the strong and the weak, between the majority and the minority. “We have always advocated the return of Kashmiri Pandits and disapproved of making this human issue a political one,” Mr. Farooq said.

He said the families and friends divided “by an artificial line want to meet and share their lives, share their happiness with each other, mourn their loss together”. “It’s a human problem for the people of Jammu and Kashmir, not a territorial tug of war. We also want to move beyond it,” Mr. Farooq said.

The cleric said he has no personal ambition but to represent the interests and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. “People want settlement, and peace bringing prosperity with it, but on their [peoples’s] terms,” he added.

Mr. Farooq also demanded the release of jailed Hurriyat leaders, journalists, rights activists and lawyers. “They need to be released as soon as possible,” he said.

J&K regional leaders, including Omar Abdullah, Mehbooba Mufti, Sajad Lone, Altaf Bukhari and Waqf Board chairperson Darakhshan Andrabi, welcomed the move to release Mr. Farooq.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.