Curfew in Gund Khwaja Qasim Over Fears of Group Clashes

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir police on Wednesday imposed restrictions in Gund Khawaja Qasim quarter of Pattan over fears of group clashes during a religious congregation.

The restrictions, according to police, were imposed to stop a religious gathering at Imambargah 'Azakhaneh Zehra' of Gund Khwaja Qasim on the occasion of 28th Safar, the martyrdom anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) and his grandson Imam Hassan (AS), according to Shia tradition.

Reports said that a group of supporters of the former MLA, Imran Reza Ansari came from nearby Kanterbug village to hold the gathering at Gund Khawaja Qasim Imambargah. However, the government forces, deployed in advance, foiled their attempt.

Imran Ansari, President, Shia Association and his uncle Abid Ansari were put under house arrest at their respective residences in Srinagar.

They had called on their supporters to march to Gund Khwaja Qasim to hold the majlis at the Imambargah there.

However, according to residents of Gund Khwaja Qasim the former MLA and his uncle were forcibly trying to hold the gathering at the Imambargah without the permission of the local Auqaf committee.

“They tried it last year also but the local Auqaf denied them permission in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic, however they were adamant which led to the clashes between two groups,” said Syed Muzafar Rizvi, president of the local Auqaf committee.

Rizvi, said vested interests have turned Imambargah at the Gund Khwaja Qasim into a dispute between the people of neighbouring Kanterbug village and Gund Khwaja Qasim for their petty political gains.

He said that the Imambargah belongs to the people of Gund Khwaja Qasim and the Shia Association with its supporters from nearby Kanterbug village is trying to illegally occupy it.

“The Imambargah has been constructed by the people of Gund Khwaja Qasim without any support of any organisation or party,” he told Kashmir Observer.

He alleged that late Molvi Iftikhar Ansari would forcefully enter the Imambargah along with his supporters and hold the religious gathering there disregarding local resentment.

“He would do it since he was a Minister and powerful, we were helpless,” Muzaffar alleged.

He further added that Imambargah is open for Majalis but whosoever intends to hold a religious gathering in it, they need to get prior permission from the local Auqaf.

“But the Shia Association tries to do it forcefully which is not acceptable to the people here,” he added.

It may be noted that last year, the police had to fire tear smoke shells to disperse a group of people who descended on Gund and insisted on holding a religious gathering at Imambargah. Over 30 people were booked under sections 307,145,148 and 149 and for violating restrictions that were put in place to prevent people from attending the religious gathering in view of Covid-19 pandemic.

Keeping in view of last year's incident, the local Auqaf had approached the district administration and requested them to take necessary measures to avoid the clashes this year.

Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Pattan, Sayeed Faheem told Kashmir Observer that the situation remained under control throughout the day on Wednesday.

He said the administration denied permission for the gathering and imposed restrictions in the wake of COVID-19.

When asked why was not Imran Ansari allowed to visit the area and hold the religious gatherings, he said, “That is for the government to decide, I can’t comment.”

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Baramulla, Rayees Bhat and DySP Magam also spoke to Kashmir Observer and admitted that the police had imposed restrictions in the area to maintain law and order situation.

Mohammed Saleem Bhat, DySP Magam said that there is a dispute between two groups over Imambargah and the case is sub-judice.

In August 2021, Principal District Sessions Judge Baramulla ordered a “temporary injunction” in the dispute and barred both the groups from entering the Imambargah.

“The Imambargah has been locked since then” according to residents.

Residents said, the villagers of Kanterbug have two Imambargahs but they still try to come to Gund and occupy our Imambargah. “It’s all due to political reasons and on diktats of their leaders Imran and Abid Ansari. We refuse to bow down before pressure and they are unacceptable to us,” residents said.

However, Abid Ansari, who is the General Secretary of Shia Association rejected the claims of residents and administration and maintained that they were put under “illegal house detention”

 “We had no intention to hold the religious gathering in the particular Imambargah. We had decided and even told the administration that we would hold the gathering at Imambargah Jadeed. It has no dispute but the 'anti-national' elements in the village created hue and cry and barred us from visiting Gund,” he told Kashmir Observer.

He further alleged these are the same elements who carried out attacks on mourners in 2000 killing 16 people.

“We used to gather in a small place in the village, where we have buried 16 people who were killed in the blast but unfortunately that is not even acceptable to these elements,” he added.

Meanwhile there is deep anger among residents of Gund against outside meddling and they are keenly awaiting a court decision on the dispute.

 

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Auqib Javeed

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

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