Why J&K Govt Barred Last Friday, Qadr Prayers At Srinagar's Grand Mosque

KO File Photo by Abid Bhat

Parties Slam Govt’s Move To Disallow Special Prayers At Jamia Masjid

Srinagar- Several mainstream parties on Thursday slammed Jammu and Kashmir administration for disallowing Shab-e-Qadr' and Jumat-ul-Vida' congregational prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid here, even as the authorities maintained that the decision was taken in view of public safety.

The decision to not hold the congregational prayers was conveyed to the Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid -- the managing body of the grand mosque on Wednesday night.

The government and police officials headed by a magistrate visited the Jamia Masjid premises after Iftar and conveyed to the Auqaf members that authorities have decided not to allow Jumat-ul-Vida congregational prayers on the last Friday of Ramazan and night-long prayers on Shab-e-Qadr at the Grand Mosque of Srinagar, a statement issued by the Auqaf said.

It said the managing body strongly denounces this decision of the authorities .

The People's Alliance for Gupkar Declaration (PAGD) termed the administration's directive as highly deplorable.

The authorities, according to reports, have asked the managing body of the Jamia Masjid, not to offer prayers on Shab-e-Qadar and Jumat-ul-Vida, the last Friday of the holy month of Ramazan. The move will bar thousands of people from offering the congregational prayers inside the historic mosque, alliance spokesperson M Y Tarigami said.

Since it amounts to direct interference in the people's religious matters, the move is unacceptable and reprehensible, he said.

Tarigami said the PAGD urges the administration to reconsider its decision forthwith and allow the people to offer the prayers.

He said Jamia Masjid is a historic place and people have deep devotion to it. Such moves tantamount to hurting the religious sentiments of the people, he said.

National Conference vice president Omar Abdullah termed the ban on congregational prayers at Jamia Masjid as unfortunate, saying the administration by its actions was proving that the situation in Kashmir was far from normal and contrary to what it has been claiming.

That is unfortunate. They say that the situation is almost normal. If it is normal, then why no permission to Shab Qadr and Jumait-ul-Vida (prayers) in Jamia Masjid?, he told reporters here.

He alleged that the government was either creating an artificial normalcy or selling an impression of normalcy in the rest of the country by suppressing the people here.

"Normalcy does not come by way of tourism only. The proof of normalcy is by having people live normal lives. Not having the prayers is evidence of an abnormal situation, and not normalcy. The government, if not by its words, then by its actions, is proving that the situation in Kashmir is far from normal", Omar said.

However when contacted, Kashmir’s Divisional Commissioner, Pandurang K. Pole told Kashmir Observer that the decision to bar prayers at Grand Mosque was taken in view of the "security inputs"

"We can't share what the inputs were but you know what happened there two weeks ago," Pole said.

He further said the safety and security of the public is foremost important for the government and all measures will be taken to ensure it.

"I respect the sentiments of people but ultimately their safety and security is important. We made it known to all, including management of the mosque two days in advance," Pole added.

Earlier media reports quoting police said, "Traditionally, last Friday of Ramazan is a huge congregation and it can easily spiral into an Azadi protest. It would be difficult for us to manage such a huge congregation. The decision to disallow the prayers was taken as they did not want to take any chances."

The Grand Mosque of Srinagar was opened for prayers only last month after remaining shut for years following abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 and pandemic.

A group of young men had raised the Azadi slogans inside the mosque last month prompting police to arrest 13 of them on “sedition” charges. Police later said it was preparing a Public Safety Act (PSA) dossier against them and may book more people.

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Auqib Javeed

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

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