SRINAGAR – Hundreds of people on Wednesday offered prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid in the Old City here after the stalemate between the Anjuman-e-Auqaf and the authorities ended off after 135 days.
“The Jamia Masjid was cleaned yesterday after a meeting of the Auqaf committee was held. Today, we decided to offer prayers,” Qazi Shams a key member of Auqaaf committee, told Kashmir Observer.
Shams said that the decision to resume prayers was taken after the authorities conceded to the demand of Anjuman-e-Auqaf – headed by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who also heads a faction of Hurriyat Conference, of withdrawing government forces from the gates and compound of the Jamia Masjid.
“Zuhr and Asr prayers were offered for the first time after August 5 today. A large number of devotees offered prayers,” he said, adding “We’re looking forward to hold congregational Friday prayers after 19 weeks.
The call for mid day prayer (Zuhr) surprised the residents living around the area. The mosque officials also checked the sound system before call for prayer emanated from the minarets.
Since August 5, no prayers were held at the mosque.
Shams said that the people heaved a sigh of relief after the forces were withdrawn completely from the Jamia Masjid compound.
A volunteer said that there is a lot of dust in the prayer mats. “We are clearing the masjid before offering Zuhr prayers,” he said.
“This place is our spiritual Centre. We missed the aura and ambience that this masjid offers to people since August 5. Thank God, this place is again open for worshippers,” said Mohammad Sultan, a resident of Gojwara in Srinagar.
Some 150 odd worshippers were present for Zuhr prayers at the historic masjid.
A senior CRPF official told Kashmir Observer that the troops have withdrawn from the interiors of the Jamia Masjid.
“We have withdrawn from interiors. The situation is calm and under control,” the officer said.
Jamia mosque was caught in a tussle between Auqaf and the security forces after restrictions were imposed on holding prayers following removal of Article 370 on August 5.
Security officials had been saying that there were no curbs for holding prayers since last month while Auqaf had been maintaining that prayers won’t be held until security forces are removed from all gates and masjid surroundings.
Jamia mosque was built in 14th century and since then it has been an important spiritual centre in Kashmir.
The mosque has also been the heart of separatist politics in Kashmir for long.
Life Limping Back To Normalcy In Valley
Life in valley showed indications of returning back to normalcy on Wednesday, with shops and business establishments remaining open for the day and traffic on roads operating normally.
Meanwhile mainstream leaders including Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti continued to remain under detention, for 136th day.
Although the stalemate over the abrogation of Article 370 is in its fifth month, but despite life limping back on track, situation in valley has not yet returned to complete normalcy.
All markets and business establishments in Civil Lines areas opened for the day; however in downtown Srinagar, a partial shutdown was observed.
Class work in various colleges and university campuses was conducted normally, while schools up to higher secondary continued to remain closed on account of winter vacations. The Schools are going to reopen on February 20, 2020.
Meanwhile security arrangements continued to remain in place, in sensitive parts of downtown area, with the imposition of CrPc 144, banning the assembly of more than four persons at a place.
A sizable number of private vehicles were seen plying on roads normally, while small and medium sized public transport vehicles, also operated in large numbers all along city and on inter-district routs. There were an impressive number of auto rickshaws also seen in all parts of the city, ferrying passengers from one place to another.
With a heavy rush of vehicular traffic, huge traffic jams were witnessed at various bottle neck areas of the city, putting the commuters into great amount of inconvenience.
Internet and prepaid mobile services snapped on 5th August 2019, continued to remain suspended for 136th straight day on Tuesday, with SMS services of prepaid mobile services also remaining snapped.
Meanwhile Train services between Banihal and Baramulla also operated normally on Tuesday. ( With inputs from agencies )
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