No Prayers Held In Jamia For 13th Consecutive Friday

All the major roads leading to the old city were sealed with reams of concertina wires. Photo: Abid Bhat / KO

SRINAGAR -Authorities on Friday imposed strict curbs in downtown Srinagar to disallow the congregational Friday prayers at the historic Jamia masjid for the 13th consecutive week and to bar people from participating in the traditional Khoje-Digar prayers at the shrine of Hazrat Naqshband Sahib (RA) at Khojebazar area of Srinagar’s Old City.

Meanwhile, life continued to remain out of gear across Kashmir for the 89th consecutive day, after Article 370 was revoked and Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh were declared as Union Territories (UTs) on 5th August 2019.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who continues to remain under house arrest since August 5, who would otherwise address devotees at Naqshband Sahib shrine (RA) on the eve of Khoje-Digar, the congregational Asr prayers, wasn’t allowed to reach the shrine, first time in the recent years.

Government forces were deployed in strength across downtown including Nowhatta, MaharajGunj, Rainawari and Khanyar areas while as all the major roads were sealed with reams of concertina wires.

Sources said that nobody was allowed to move on the streets, let alone private vehicles. Only security vehicles could be seen plying while as security forces personnel wearing riot gear were patrolling the roads.

They said that deployment was more in Nowhatta and Khawaja Bazar areas of downtown in view of Friday and the traditional Khoje-Digar—the congregational Asr prayers offered at the revered shrine of Naqshband Sahib (RA) every year to mark the annual Urs of the saint.

Devotees offer ‘Khoje-Digar’ prayers in 2017

Meanwhile some people attempted to enter the shrine, but forces foiled their attempt, which led to clashes between them and the forces in which scores, including a lady was injured, as police fired a few tear gas shells to disperse them.
Government forces thrashed some photo journalists as well, who had gone there to cover the situation

Locals of downtown expressed their deep anguish and anger over the decision of authorities for not allowing Khoj-e-Digar.

“This is religious interference and we strongly condemn this. Our religious sentiments and emotions stand badly hurt as this occasion comes once in a year and yet we were barred from participating in this spiritual event,” They said.

As per the residents of downtown, congregational prayers were not allowed at the historic Jamia Masjid for the 13th Friday in a row as all While it was the first day in office for newly appointed Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir GC Murmu, tough security arrangements were put in place in sensitive areas of the city.

Leaving some areas of city, where shops were open in the morning and evening hours, shops and business establishments all over the valley remained shut.

Class work in various schools, colleges and universities continued to remain suspended, while the attendance of the employees in government offices also remained affected, barring emergency services, where the attendance of employees was normal.

A comparatively decline was registered in the number of vehicular traffic in the city; however a good number of private vehicles and auto rickshaws were seen plying on various city routes.

Train service between Baramulla and Banihal completed a suspension of almost three months, keeping inter-district railway traffic between Valley and Pirpanchal region out of gear for 89th day.

Barring landlines (thrown open in the first phase of restoration of communication lines) and postpaid mobile services (restored on 14th October, 2019), are completely operational throughout the valley now, prepaid mobile and internet services continued to remain suspended for 89th days at a stretch.

There was decline in the numbers of street vendors in Polo Ground Sunday market and along the Residency Road, who had gradually, but considerably resumed their business were also seen in less numbers as compared to other days, in view of the traditional uncertainty on Fridays, prevailing for over last more than two and half months.

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