Shab-e-Qadr Prayers Barred at Kashmir’s Jamia Masjid; Mirwaiz Again Under ‘House Arrest’

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Authorities are also unlikely to allow the congregational Eid prayers at the Jamia Masjid, which is Kashmir’s largest, next Wednesday or Thursday.

New Delhi: Authorities in Kashmir disallowed the congregational Shab-e-Qadr prayers at Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid on Saturday (April 6) while moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was reportedly put under house-arrest again.

Mirwaiz said that the action was akin to “spiritual oppression” and an “attack on the religious freedom and rights of Kashmiri Muslims”.

“The insensitivity shown by these closures is a clear indication of a lack of respect and understanding. This spiritual oppression of Kashmiri Muslims must end now,” he said.

Speaking to The Wire, Mirwaiz said that the “blatant disregard for the religious and emotional sentiments of the Muslim community in Kashmir” was “unacceptable and deeply offensive”.

“It is beyond comprehension how authorities can repeatedly target the largest place of worship and put me under house arrest in such a critical time, causing distress and suffering among the faithful.”

In a statement on April 6, Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid, the managing body of the 14th-century mosque located in downtown Srinagar’s Nowhatta locality, said that the authorities locked the gates and worshippers were asked to vacate the mosque premises on late Saturday afternoon.

“The Auqaf was informed that the observance of taraweeh or Shab Khani on the auspicious occasion of Shab-e-Qadr will not be permitted at the Jama Masjid,” the statement said.

Witnesses said that a large posse of police and paramilitary forces were also deployed outside the main gate of Mirwaiz’s residence in Srinagar’s Nigeen locality.

The mosque’s managing body said Mirwaiz was reportedly put under house-detention.

Mirwaiz is also Kashmir’s chief cleric. Photo: Jehangir Ali.
“Anjuman Auqaf expresses profound disappointment at the decision of the authorities and strongly condemns this repressive measure,” the statement added.

Shab-e-Qadr, or the ‘night of power’, is the holiest night for Muslims when the Holy Quran is believed to have been revealed to Islam’s most revered prophet.

According to the lunar calendar, it is observed on the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramzan, the month of fasting.

Barring Jamia Masjid, which is the biggest mosque in Kashmir, the congregational Shab-e-Qadr prayers were, however, held peacefully in the other major mosques and shrines of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) on Saturday night and were attended by thousands of men and women.

Earlier, on Friday, the Jamia Masjid, which was an epicentre of separatist sentiment in Kashmir, was shut by authorities without specifying any reason in writing.

The congregational prayers on the last Friday of Ramzan were also disallowed and Mirwaiz, who has challenged his “illegal and arbitrary detention” in the J&K high court, was also reportedly put under house-arrest.

He was reportedly put under house arrest again on Saturday.

A press conference called by Mirwaiz in response to his detention and the shutting of Jamia Masjid was also foiled by authorities, and media-persons who had gone to cover the event were turned away by security personnel from the Hurriyat leader’s residence.

Mirwaiz, who has participated in Track-II dialogue between New Delhi and Islamabad on Kashmir, had termed his detention “extremely sad and unfortunate”, adding that it had caused “great distress, anguish and pain” to people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“We … protest this authoritarianism and direct violation of our religious rights,” he had said.

Mirwaiz, who is also the chief cleric of Kashmir, was allowed last month to offer Friday prayers at the Jamia Masjid for the first time during Ramzan after the abrogation of Article 370 and for the fourth time since his release in September last year, according to the Anjuman.

Meanwhile, authorities are also unlikely to allow the congregational Eid prayers at the Jamia Masjid, which will be observed next Wednesday or Thursday.

The mosque has not hosted any Eid prayers since August 5, 2019, when Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two Union territories.

Earlier this month, Darakshan Andrabi, who heads the J&K Wakf Board, the managing body of some important shrines and mosques in the Union territory, said that the Eidgah ground in Srinagar was not fit for hosting the upcoming Eid prayers.

“The ground is shabby. Our people have ruined it over the years and it looks more like a playfield. It will take a lot of time and resources for restoration. A new pulpit is being made and a tender has already been floated. But when the ground is not proper, how will the [Eid] prayer be hosted there?” Andrabi said.

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Disclaimer: Shab-e-Qadr Prayers Barred at Kashmir’s Jamia Masjid; Mirwaiz Again Under ‘House Arrest’ - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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