The J&K Lieutenant Governor (L-G) administration has decided not to allow congregational prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar on the occasion of Shab-e-Qadr, night-long prayers, and Jumat-ul-Vida, last Friday of Ramadan, evoking sharp criticism from the regional parties and Hurriyat chairman and chief priest Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
According to a spokesman of the Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid, caretakers of the mosque located at Nowhatta in Srinagar, the government and police officials, headed by a magistrate, visited the Jamia Masjid premises on Wednesday and “conveyed that the authorities have decided not to allow Shab–e–Qadr and Jumat–ul–Vida prayers”.
The Peoples Alliance for the Gupkar Declaration (PAGD), an amalgam of regional parties, denounced the L-G administration’s move.
“The move is unacceptable and reprehensible. It will bar thousands of people from offering the congregational prayers inside the historic mosque. It amounts to direct interference in the people’s religious matters,” PAGD spokesman and CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami said.
The PAGD, which has the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as its members, has also urged the administration “to reconsider its decision”.
National Conference (NC) vice–president Omar Abdullah said the government’s decision belied the claims of normalcy.
“If the government claims the situation is normal, then why the prayers have been disallowed at the historic Jamia Masjid?” Mr. Abdullah said.
He said the “government, if not by its words but by its action, is proving that the situation is too far from normal. Linking tourist arrivals with normalcy won’t do”.
Incarcerated Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, also Valley’s chief priest, said the government’s move “is outrageous and against the fundamental human right to religious practice”.
“The central Jamia mosque would see people in lakhs offering prayers on these occasions. Such orders are against Muslims,” the Mirwaiz said.
The Hurriyat has asked the authorities “to revoke the ban on prayers and allow Muslims across the Valley to access the central Jamia Masjid on these very important and holy days of Ramadan”.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti has alleged that “not only are scores of youth being picked up on a daily basis but even mainstream representatives like sarpanches are being held captive by the administration. “Hope they are allowed to at least celebrate Id with their families,” she said.