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Mirwaiz disallowed to lead Friday prayers: Hurriyat

Kashmir’s chief priest and chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC), Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. File   | Photo Credit: NISSAR AHMAD

Hurriyat chairman and the Kashmir Valley’s chief cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who was not released from house arrest to lead Friday prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid, said “such arbitrary arrests will not change the ground realities of Kashmir”.

Speaking to The Hindu, the Mirwaiz said he was disappointed by the J&K administration’s reversal of its earlier decision to allow him to fulfil his religious obligations as the head priest.

“Senior police officials visited me and conveyed that I was not free to visit the mosque. My residence was sealed and the visitors were stopped on Friday morning. Such arbitrary arrests will not change the ground realities of Kashmir,” the Mirwaiz said.

He said the Hurriyat had “a very principled stand on the Kashmir issue”. “We will always speak for a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue by engaging all stakeholders, including India, Pakistan and the people of Kashmir,” the Mirwaiz said.

He described the recent military-level talks between India and Pakistan on a ceasefire in J&K as “a pointer to the new realities dawning on New Delhi”.

“It shows that even the current regime in New Delhi has started believing in dialogue as one key institution to move ahead on the sticky issues like the Kashmir issue. We have already welcomed the move and hope it progresses substantially to see progress on the Kashmir problem,” the Mirwaiz said.

The Mirwaiz has remained under house arrest since August 4, 2019, a day before the Centre ended J&K’s special Constitutional position.

Recently, the J&K administration said the Mirwaiz was no longer under house arrest and was “free to go wherever he wanted”.

The Mirwaiz, according to the Hurriyat, had failed to lead any Friday prayers in the past 19 months.

Clashes after Friday prayers

Meanwhile, supporters of the Mirwaiz, who had decorated the premises of the Jamia Masjid, clashed with security forces after the Friday prayers.

Scores of women supporters of the Mirwaiz had also assembled on the premises of the mosque.

Many supporters raised pro-Mirwaiz and pro-freedom slogans inside the mosque in Srinagar’s Nowhatta. However, the protesters dispersed after the security forces swung into action.

The Mutahida Majlis-e-Ulema (MMU), a body of religious scholars, also expressed “strong resentment” over the continued house arrest of the Mirwaiz.

“Undue restrictions on the peaceful activities of the Valley’s topmost religious leader and preventing him from performing his duties as the Mirwaiz-e-Kashmir was unacceptable,” an MMU spokesperson said, while describing the government’s move as “autocratic”.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 9:26:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/mirwaiz-disallowed-to-lead-friday-prayers-hurriyat/article33995179.ece

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