SRINAGAR - Friday prayers were today offered for the first time after 19 weeks in the historic Jamia Masjid, where gates were opened for the first time after remaining closed since August 5, when centre scrapped Article 370 and 35 A, besides divided the state into two Union Territories (UTs).
However, unprecedented security arrangements had been made and roads to leading to Jamia Masjid were closed for vehicular traffic movement though there was no restriction on pedestrians.
The Masjid committee used loud speakers for “Azaan” (call for prayers) later for “Nimaz”, which passed off peacefully. Though some slogans were also raised in the masjid.
However, the committee strongly condemned continued restrictions on chairman of moderate Hurriyat Conference (HC) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is under house arrest since August 5. Mirwaiz, who heads the Masjid committee, was addressing Friday congregations every week.
Friday prayers were offered for the first time in the Masjid today though the number of devotees were comparatively less as compared to August 5 when curfew restrictions were imposed and people were not allowed to enter the worship place.
Even normal prayers were not allowed in the masjid due to curfew restrictions. However, about a month ago, police said that there were no restrictions and people can offer prayers in the Masjid.
The Masjid management demanded withdrawal of all government forces in the area before again resuming normal prayers in the historic Masjid. It was only on Wednesday the management suddenly opened all the gates and offered “Zohur” (Mid-day) prayers in the majid. Only few hundred people, mostly shopkeepers of the area, joined the prayers.
Today government forces had closed roads leading to Masjid at Rangar stop, Gojwara, Nowhatta and other places. No vehicle was allowed towards the Majid and people were being asked to take alternative routes. However, there was no restriction on pedestrians going to Masjid to offer prayers.
Later, the road blocks were also lifted immediately after prayers, led by Imam Hai were over.
Reports of offering of Friday prayers were also received from other part of the valley, including Srinagar.
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