No Friday Prayers At Jama Masjid, Hazratbal For 3rd Week

Devotees Fume, Question Curbs On Religious Places

Srinagar: Hundreds of devotees fumed in anger as authorities disallowed congregational Friday prayers for the third week in a row at the historic Jamia Masjid and the Hazratbal shrine over 'fears of coronavirus spread'.

According to eyewitnesses, devotees were barred from offering Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid in the Old City, Aasar-e-Shareef Hazratbal and other prominent shrines in this capital city. All gates leading to the Jamia Masjid, they said, were locked to prevent worshipers from offering prayers, while security personnel were deployed in strength to meet any situation.

Similarly, congregational prayers were also disallowed for the third consecutive week at Hazratbal Shrine, which houses the Holy Relic of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Devotees who reached the shrine to offer prayers were furious after being denied access by the security personnel. They also staged a peaceful protest against the closure of the shrine without prior notice.

“I came to Dargah after travelling 30 kilometres but was very disappointed to see the gates locked once again,” Mohammad Ramzan, a resident of Ganderbal told Kashmir Observer.

Ramzan says the shrine has been closed for over four months now. “We would spend the rest of the days peacefully after offering Friday prayers in Dargah but unfortunately the government has closed only religious places while other places have been thrown open,” he said.

Another devotee said, even if the administration had to close down the shrine, they should inform the people a day before so that they won’t come.

He said devotees from Anantnag, Sopore, Budgam and Baramulla reached the shrine today but the gates were locked leaving them fuming.

“The closure of the shrine has also hit the dozens of street vendors, who would earn their livelihood,” he said.

Meanwhile, Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid in a statement issued here said that senior administration officials on Friday morning informed the Khateeb and Imam of the Central Jama Masjid Maulana Ahmad Sayeed Naqshbandi that congregational prayers would not be allowed in the grand mosque.

In this regard, a formal notice has also been pasted on the gate of the Jama Masjid by the administration, they said.

The Anjuman lamented that despite the worshippers fully adhering to COVID-19 SOPs, the prayers at the largest place of worship in Kashmir were not being allowed for the last three Fridays.

“This is extremely sad and painful for the people especially those coming for prayers at the Jama Masjid Srinagar,” the statement reads.

According to reports, major shrines which remained shut on Friday, included the Khanqah-e-Maula, Astane Aliya Dastgeer Sahab, Astane Aliya Makhdoom Sahib, Aastane Aliya Naqshband Sahab and others by the authorities in view of coronavirus threat.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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