Sameer Showkin Lone
Srinagar: The historic Jamia Masjid located at volatile Nowhatta area of old city continues to remain under the siege of forces and shut for the prayers for the 17th consecutive Friday today.
No prayers were offered at the central mosque of the Valley, while the clergy of the mosque, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq continues to remain under house arrest at his Nigeen residence. The Mirwaiz was recently released from sub-jail Cheshmashahi.
Kashmir valley is in the grip of unrest since July 8, after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani, along with two other colleagues in a village in south Kashmir. Wani’s killing, a poster boy of the present age militancy, has triggered spontaneous protests across the state leaving as many as 93 people dead and over 15000 injured.
The separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik, have been jointly spearheading the protest program that is a days to come will complete its fifth month without any break in the shutdown and protests.
The separatists have put forward five points which the government of India has so far refused to agree, leading to a political crisis that sees no immediate breakthrough between New Delhi and Kashmiri’s pro-freedom leadership.
It was on July 8, this year, when the last Friday Congregation prayers were held at Jamia Masjid. Four and a half months have passed but the grand mosque continues to remain locked down. The continuous lockdown of the mosque reflects the government’s interference in the religious matters.
“The Pulpit of Jamia Masjid from the past 600 years has been spreading the message of Islam and teachings of Prophet Muhammad PBUH,” said a local Muhammad Ismail (70).
“I have been offering Friday prayers in this Jamia Masjid since my childhood. I have never seen the masjid being locked for such a long period,” said Ghulam Rasool, (70) of Khanyar.
It is being said that Jamia Masjid has been locked up for the longest period after Maharaja Rule. According to historians, Jamia Masjid was locked for long 20 years during the Sikh rule, from 1819 to 1845. During Dogra rule, the Masjid was again locked. Jamia Masjid was constructed by Sultan Sikandar, father of Zainul Aabideen popularly known as Budshah.
However, both pre and post 1947, when India and Pakistan achieved independence, the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar had and continues to remain the center stage of the freedom struggle of Kashmir. (PTK)