Prayers resume in Srinagar’s Jamia mosque after 19 weeks

The presence of security forces outside the premises has thinned out

Updated - December 18, 2019 07:55 pm IST

Published - December 18, 2019 07:52 pm IST - Srinagar

A CRPF jawan stands guard near the Jamia Masjid mosque in downtown Srinagar in 2017.

A CRPF jawan stands guard near the Jamia Masjid mosque in downtown Srinagar in 2017.

Daily namaz (prayers) were resumed on Wednesday in Srinagar’s historic Jamia Masjid mosque after remaining closed for a record over 19 consecutive weeks since August 5, as security forces thinned out their presence from outside the premises.

“Constituents of the Anjuman-e-Auqaf held a meeting on the resumption of prayers on Tuesday. It was decided that the mosque should resume prayers as the local market has begun to reopen shops and the security presence outside has also come down,” Shams-ul-Haq, spokesperson of the mosque’s head priest Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, told The Hindu .

“We were able to offer noon and late afternoon prayers on Wednesday. It has brought immense relief to locals who were yearning to pray at this historic mosque,” he added.

Gates unlocked

The authorities locked all the four gates of the grand mosque on August 5 following the Centre’s move to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. They unlocked the premises of the 14th century mosque in the first week of December. However, no prayers were organised by the caretakers due to the shutdown and “heavy presence” of security, including mobile bunkers, outside the mosque.

Sources said the Anjuman-e-Auqaf formally put forth its demand before the police to remove mobile bunkers and thin out the presence of security forces. “We hope to organise Friday prayers this week. We expect no hurdles from any side now,” said Mr. Shams-ul-Haq.

‘First time’

The current closure of the mosque crossed the previous record of 2016, when it remained closed for 16 successive weeks following security measures imposed in the wake of militant commander Burhan Wani death in an “encounter” in the Valley.

“It is for the first time after the Dogra monarch’s rule that the Jamia Masjid witnessed no prayers for 18th consecutive week,” said Zareef Ahmad Zareef, a writer and poet.

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