Thousands of separatists such as chief cleric of Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were taken into custody by authorities
Srinagar: On Wednesday Srinagar’s main mosque Jamia Masjid re-opened for prayers for the first time since Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was abrogated by the central government in August.
Around 70 worshippers were led by Mufti Ghulam Rasool in afternoon prayers inside the sprawling mosque, which can accommodate 30,000.
Local people believe the recent closure was the longest at the 13th-century mosque since India got independence in 1947.
“I was sitting at residence when I heard the azan (call for prayer) coming from the Jamia Masjid. I couldn’t believe my ears and came running to offer prayers here for the first time in four-and-a-half months,” Mohamad Iqbal said.
“I feel like I’m breathing again. No doubt my happiness knows no bounds, but the saddest thing is that the Kashmir dispute is yet to be resolved,” he added.
In August, India ended special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the constitution and split it into two union territories, saying the move would help ensure that people of the state get the same constitutional benefits as the rest of India. Due to the Prevention of clashes, the center also imposed massive security restrictions and took measures that included arresting politicians, posting extra troops and blocking phone and internet lines.
Thousands of separatists such as chief cleric of Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid Mirwaiz Umar Farooq were taken into custody by authorities.
Before the clampdown, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq delivered sermons and political messages at the mosque every Friday, which were often followed by road protests.
Other mosques and shrines in Kashmir have faced the same restrictions at different times on huge gatherings during the lockdown.