Conflict

Undeclared restrictions in parts of old city to thwart protests

Srinagar: The Government of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday imposed “undeclared” restrictions in parts of Old City in Srinagar to thwart protests called by the resistance leadership.

According to a report in Kashmir Life, a weekly news magazine published in Srinagar, restrictions have been imposed in downtown areas under section 144. “It bars the assembly of four or more persons falling under the restricted areas.”

Joint Resistance Leadership has called for “peaceful protest” after weekly congregational prayers to protest the suspension of life sentences of army soldiers involved in Machhil fake encounter and “persecution of pro-freedom leadership”.

The goverment for the last five Fridays has not allowed congregational Friday prayers in the historic Jamia mosque. The move has drawn flak from various quarters terming it direct interference in religious matters.

On Thursday a meeting of Clerics and Imams of various mosques was held at Mirwaiz Manzil in Srinagar. A unanimous resolution was passed in the meeting terming the continuous lockdown of the Jamia Masjid by authorities as unacceptable and “direct interference in religious affairs.”

Clerics of various religious organisations and mosques of Kashmir discussed the continuous closure of Jamia Masjid, barring of APHC chairman from leading Friday prayers and imposing strict curbs in downtown areas on every Friday to prevent people from offering friday prayers.

The meeting was chaired by vice president of the Auqaf and Imam of Jamia Masjid Moulana Ahmed Syed Naqshbandi while as incarcerated chairman of the AHPC Mirwaiz Umar Farooq addressed the gathering of Ulema and civil society activists over phone.

“Imposing strict curbs in Downtown areas on every Friday to prevent people from reaching to the grand masjid, caging Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is highly condemnable. Government must refrain from such an anti-Islam practice and ensure people are allowed to offer prayers at Jamia from now onwards,” the resolution read.

Addressing the participants over phone, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Kashmir’s head priest and Hurriyat (m) chairperson said: “It has become a regular affair of the government and its forces that on every Friday entire Downtown is turned into a military zone, all roads sealed with barbed wires and gates of Jamia Masjid locked? It’s high time we rise to an occasion to condemn this direct interference in religious affairs,” he said.

A military court has reportedly suspended the life sentences and granted bail to five army men, including two officers, convicted for extrajudicial killing of three civilians near Line of Control (LoC) in 2010, in the infamous Machhil encounter.

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