Srinagar: In a highly anticipated and emotionally charged moment, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, the revered spiritual leader and religious head of Kashmir’s Muslim community, finally made his way to Jamia Masjid today to lead Friday prayers.
Mirwaiz was under hosue arrest for last four years and was disallowed to lead 212 Fridays by the JK administration. He was not allowed to step out of his residence in Nigeen area of the city.
Today, a massive and jubilant crowd of locals had gathered outside the grand mosque, holding flower garlands and hearts full of anticipation, to welcome him with open arms. Throngs of people, young and old, had congregated, creating an atmosphere of celebration and unity. The mosque’s historic courtyard was a sea of colours as people from across Valley adorned the revered leader with garlands made of vibrant flowers.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s arrival at the mosque marked a significant moment for the local population, as this was the first time since 2019 that he was able to lead Friday prayers, following his house arrest in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370.
Jamia Committee earlier said that Mirwaiz’s absence from the pulpit has left a void in the hearts of many Kashmiris, who view him as a symbol of hope and a steadfast advocate for peace in the region.
“With each passing day, people are expressing their concern over his prolonged detention and due to his absence the pulpit of Jamia Masjid Srinagar continues to remain silent. The efforts of social reform activities are also severely affected due to his detention,” the Committee had mentioned.
Earlier in August, Mirwaiz sent a formal legal notice to the administration of Jammu and Kashmir led by Manoj Sinha. In the notice, he requested his release from detention and issued a warning that he will take the matter to court if the administration does not provide a favorable response.
In September, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court issued a notice to the Union Territory’s administration, seeking an explanation for Mirwaiz’s extended house arrest. The court’s intervention had raised expectations and hopes for his return to his religious duties.
The notice was issued to JK Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta by Mirwaiz’s counsel Nazir Ahmad Ronga.
The notice reads, “You are therefore, through the medium of this legal notice, requested to lift/remove the restrictions imposed upon the movement of my client through the deployment of large contingent of security forces outside his Nigeen residence as the illegal and unauthorised detention of my client has curtailed his life & liberty guaranteed to him under Article 21 besides you are called upon not to impose restrictions upon my client to participate in religious ceremonies/activities and not to prevent him to preach his religions and to perform his religious duties particularly to participate in congregational prayers on Fridays at Jamia Masjid, Nowhatta, Srinagar.”
It further reads, “If my client finds no prompt and positive response to this legal notice, he shall be constrained and compelled to file the appropriate proceedings or writ in the competent court of jurisdiction which he has a right to do and move for the redressal of his genuine and legitimate grievances and for the protection of his fundamental rights guaranteed particularly under Article 21 and; Articles 25 to 28 of the constitution.”
Today, as the spiritual leader ascended the pulpit at Jamia Masjid, the congregation listened intently to his words, hanging on every syllable of his Friday sermon.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s return to the grand mosque to lead Friday prayers is a poignant moment in the complex political and social landscape of Jammu and Kashmir.
Meanwhile, various politicians including Omar Abdullah, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Altaf Bukhari, Salman Nizami, Sajad Lone and others have encouraged the deciosn to release the Hurriyat Conference chief.
Waqf Board chief Darakshan Andrabi has also shared a photograph of her with Mirwaiz at his residence on social media platform X. She said she welcomes the JK administration’s decision to release the head priest of Kashmir.