Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid Srinagar has expressed “surprise and astonishment” over the administration’s decision of disallowing Friday prayers at major places of worship including the historic Jamia Masjid Srinagar “under the guise of Covid-19”, saying only the religious places are being targeted. It also demanded immediate lifting of “undue restrictions” on its Chairman and Valley’s head cleric Mirwaiz-e-Kashmir Dr Moulvi Muhammad Umar Farooq who has been under house arrest since 5 August 2019.
“It is ironic that on one hand, all concerns regarding Covid are being ignored when it comes to asking people to participate in official functions while restrictions are being imposed on Friday prayers and worship in central mosques, shrines and imambaras where Covid SOPs are being fully followed,” the Anjuman said in a statement.
The authorities last week allowed Friday prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar’s Old City after around four months which evoked overwhelming response from the people who expressed hope that the grand mosque would be open for five daily prayers too apart from the weekly congregation.
Today, the management of the Jamia Masjid condemned the administration’s decision of not allowing the Friday prayers at the central grand mosque and other renowned religious places like Dargah Hazratbal, Khanqah-e-Moula and Aastaan Aalia Hazrat Makhdoom Hamza Kashmiri (RA), terming it “extremely regrettable and appalling”.
“After a long hiatus, the Central Jamia Masjid in Srinagar was reopened for Friday prayers and worship only last Friday. The Anjuman Auqaf had ensured that people who came to the mosque for prayers fully followed the Covid SOP guidelines. (However) today, the authorities abruptly closed not only the Jamia Masjid and other central and important places for Friday prayers; but on the contrary, an attempt was made to create an atmosphere of fear and panic by deploying a heavy military contingent around many central places of worship,” the Anjuman said in the statement.
It said that due to the closure of central mosques, people tried to offer Friday prayers on streets and outside compounds in protest and expressed their indignation against the attitude of the rulers.
“Apart from seeking removal of restrictions on the Central Jamia Masjid as well as all other major places of worship, the Anjuman Auqaf has demanded immediate release of Kashmir’s topmost religious leader, Mirwaiz Dr Moulvi Muhammad Umar Farooq, who has been under house arrest for the past 25 months and is (being) forcibly barred from performing important duties such as Friday prayers for more than two years now,” the statement said.
Anjuman said “authorities were crossing all limits regarding interference in religious affairs which was a matter of great concern to the people of Kashmir”.