Thousands of people offered congregational Friday prayers in Kashmir to mark Jumat-ul-Vida, the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan.
The day was also observed as ‘Youm-e-Quds’ to express solidarity with the people of Palestine and denounce the terrorist attacks of Israel over Gaza.
Most of the separatist leaders including Syed Ali Geelani, Shabir Ahmed Shah, Nayeem Ahmed Khan, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai and others were placed under house arrest and were barred from offering Jumat-ul-Vida prayers and participate in Quds rallies.
The largest congregation took place at historic Jamia Masjid in old city Srinagar where around three lakh people offered prayers, with second largest gathering recorded at Hazratbal Shrine. At Jamia Masjid Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq addressed the people.
“While the Jamia Masjid and its premises were packed to full capacity, thousands of people offered the congregational prayers on the roads outside the Masjid, stretching from Khwajabazar to Hawal Chowk,” said eyewitnesses.
A rough estimate put the number of those who assembled at Hazratbal Shrine between one lakh to two lakh.
Devotees from across Kashmir had gathered here including women, children and elderly citizens.
Traffic police had made special arrangements for the smooth conduct of the prayers. While traffic from Soura and Lal Bazar was diverted to the interiors of the old city, vehicles coming from Lal Chowk towards the historic mosque or destinations towards Soura or Lal Bazar were diverted near Khwajabazar.
Large congregations were also witnessed at Saeed Sahab (RA) Sonawar, Aasar-e-Sharief Soura and other Masjids in Srinagar.
Mammoth congregations were also held in district Jamia mosques across Kashmir where Imams delivered special lectures on philosophy of Ramadan and Jumat-ul-Vida.
Meanwhile, markets were decorated at various places including Hazratbal and Jamia Market Nowhatta. Shopkeepers had announced discounts on various products on the eve of Jamat-ul-Vida, Shab i Qadir and Eid ul Fitr. People were also seen busy in purchasing various Islamic books and caps. Little boys wearing caps and girls wearing Hijab were also seen going to offer prayers while reciting Qur’an along with their elders.
In Islamabad district, biggest Friday congregation prayers were held in Jamia Masjid Hanfia, Jamia Masjid Ahlihadith, Rehat Ded mosque and Bait-ul-Mukaram mosque in Islamabad town as well as in Dargah Khiram, Kaba Marg, Ziyarat I Sharief of Sheikh Zain u Din Wali (RA) Aishmuqam and Seer Hamdan.
In Kulgam, the biggest congregational prayers were held in Ziyarat-e-Sharief Syed Simnania (RA) Qaimoh, Jamia Ahlihadith Khudwani and other mosques. Huge congregational prayers were also held in Darul-uloom Noor-ul-Islam Tral, Awantipora, Pampore Jamia Masjid and Tak Masjid in Shopian and Jamia Masjid Pulwama.
Massive procession was taken out soon after Friday prayers at historic Jamia Masjid to express solidarity with the people of Gaza. Amid anti-Israel and anti-US slogans, people torched the Israeli flag and clashed with government forces there who had been deployed in strength to maintain law and order in the old city. Reports said that there were intense clashes between police and protestors, during which the protestors resorted to heavy stone-throwing. Police fired tear smoke shells to disperse them. The clashes continued for hours.
During the procession at Tral, some youth resorted to stone-throwing and attacked CRPF’s 185 battalion. Eyewitnesses said that the CRPF personnel fired in air and bursted dozens of tear smoke shells. During the clashes three persons including SHO Tral Nazir Ahmed were injured. Reports said that the SHO received four stitches on his face while another civilian Manzoor Ahmed Mir was shifted to hospital for further treatment.
To mark Youm-e-Quds, rallies and processions were taken out in Srinagar as well as in different parts of Kashmir valley. Thousands of people participated in these rallies and denounced the Israeli attacks on Gaza.
Religious scholars and social activists addressed these rallies and condemned the Israeli attacks, envisaged for unity among Muslims and warned people against the malicious designs of enemies of Islam. The people raised slogans like “Marg Bar America, Marg Bar Israel (Death to America, Death to Israel)” and “Shia Sunni Bhai Bhai (Shias and Sunnis are brothers).”
Most of the Quds rallies culminated in a peaceful atmosphere in North, Central and South Kashmir. (CNS)