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India denies Kashmiris the right to congregate in Jamia mosque for last Friday of Ramadan

On 14th April, the management body of the most prominent mosque of Kashmir valley, Jamia Masjid, stated that the Indian government disallowed Jumu’atul-Wida congregational prayers at the historic mosque. Jumu’atul-Widaa’ is the last Friday in the month of Ramadan, a highly important religious occasion for the Muslim population of the valley[17].

One of the members of the managing committee of the mosque, while speaking to us on the condition of anonymity, stated that, “Some police officials and other members of the state administration came to mosque in the morning around 9 o’clock and told us to shut the gates of the mosque as they had decided that Jumu’atul-Wida prayers will not be permitted at the mosque”.

The authorities also barred the chief sermon of the mosque, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, from visiting the mosque. This was the 188th consecutive Friday prayer when Mirwaiz was not allowed to leave his home for leading the prayer[18].

Kashmir Peace Forum, an organization of Kashmiri Hindus, also condemned the banning of Friday prayers at the mosque, calling it a violation of the religious freedoms of the people[19].

Previously, on March 7th, Indian authorities barred Shab-e-Barat (Night of Repentance) congregational prayers at the same mosque. The Indian officials locked the gates and placed military there, preventing thousands of Kashmiri Muslims from praying at the main mosque of the region.

Though India carries out these actions in the name of “public order” or “security concerns”, the language conceals the injury these violations cause to the religious sentiments of the people[20]. Apparently, public order is being maintained by denying the public their fundamental right to assemble peacefully. It seems that the administrative language of order and security is used to justify what are otherwise blatant curbs on religious rights. The same language is not deployed during the events of Hindu pilgrimages in the valley, and instead, these pilgrimages are provided complete support by the government. The central government had even attempted to transfer forest land to construct temporary shelters and facilities for Amarnath pilgrims[21].






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