If Mirwaiz not under house arrest, allow him to deliver Friday sermons: APHC

Reacting to the LG's statement in an interview to the BBC on Friday, APHC demanded that the Mirwaiz in that case be allowed to deliver Friday sermons at Jama Masjid, Srinagar

J&K  Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha (file photo)
J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha (file photo)

Daanish Bin Nabi

The Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha claim in an interview to the BBC that All Parties Hurriyat Conference (M) (APHC) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is not under house arrest, has caused considerable outrage. Policemen, he said, had been posted outside the Miswaiz's residence for his own safety, the LG added.

The LG in fact claimed that the administration had not detained any political prisoner, social activist or religious leader in jail.

When asked about Mirwaiz’s detention, the LG said that: “Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is not under house detention. We have kept cops around him for his safety. Even in 2019, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was not detained under the PSA. He is neither under house arrest nor detained. He must decide what he wants to do,” he said in an to BBC Hindi on Friday.

The APHC led by Mirwaiz hit back sharply saying that if he is not detained then allow him (Mirwaiz) to deliver the Friday sermon at the historic Jama Masjid this coming Friday.

“If the authorities have now decided to release Mirwaiz, let him be allowed to deliver the Friday sermon at Jama Masjid this Friday and let them not stop people from assembling there to listen to him,” APHC in a press statement said.

APHC said that LG’s statement is a blatant misrepresentation of facts and denial of his incarceration is ‘unbelievable’.

“Mirwaiz for the last three years has not been allowed to come out of his house despite repeated appeals and implorations from all sections of people to the authorities, including religious ulemas across the state,” APHC said.

It said that the newspaper and electronic media reports bear witness to it. “Except close relatives no one is allowed to enter Mirwaiz’s house. How can such facts be negated and claims of his not being under house arrest made,” APHC said.

APHC said that if the authorities now want to release Mirwaiz it is welcome but giving such misleading statements to save face, is mischievous.

Kashmir’s political seat

It is said that whosoever holds the reins of Srinagar’ Jamia Masjid wields political power in Kashmir. From the House of Abdullahs to the House of Mirwaizs to political elites of Kashmir everyone has tried to hold onto the Grand Mosque to legitimise power.

Presently, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq holds the sway of this political power in Kashmir. However, he has been under detention since the Union Government read down the special status of the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Stats of last six years

Figures for the last six-years portray a grim picture. In 2016, the Grand Mosque was closed for 30 Fridays; in 2017 for 18 Fridays; 2018 for 16 Fridays; in 2019 for 26 Fridays; in 2020 for 21 Fridays; and in 2021 For 44 Fridays.

Similarly, the data shows that Mirwaiz Molvi Umar Farooq, who delivers the mandatory Friday sermons in Jamia Masjid was put under house detention in 2016 for 78 days; in 2017 for 200 days; in 2018 for 120 days; in 2019 for 174 days; in 2020 for 365 days and in 2021 till December 8 for 342 days.

The Mosque

Founded in 1402 AD by Sultan Sikandar Shah Kashmiri, father of Sultan Zainulaabdin (Budshah), the grand-old Mosque of Srinagar is roughly 600-year-old. Known for its peaceful and tranquil ambiance, the Srinagar’s Jamia Mosque can accommodate more than 33,000 people at one time.

The construction of the Masjid is inspired by Indo-Saracenic architecture. The Grand mosque has an area of 384 X 381 feet. It is quadrangular in shape, roughly square, with four minarets; one in the middle of each side covered with a series of pyramidal roofs which terminate in an open turret crowned by a high pinnacle.

Reactions to house detention of Mirwaiz

The Grand Mufti of Jammu and Kashmir Mufti Nasir-ul-Islam demanded immediate release of Mirwaiz Kashmir and said, " After August 5, 2019, the historic Jamia Masjid Srinagar has remained closed under various pretexts and people prevented from praying in this central place of worship?”

National Conference Vice President and former chief minister of the State of Jammu and Kashmir Mr. Omar Abdullah reacted to the LG's statement by tweeting, “The same way my colleagues were locked in their homes ‘for their own safety’ for months after 4th Aug 2019 & the same way we get trucks parked outside our gates every once in a while because ‘inputs’ suggest an attack on Gupkar road is imminent.”

Separatist-turned-mainstream politician Sajad Gani Lone said: “I think L-G sahib needs to verify facts. His statements don’t reflect reality. May I humbly state that the tradition of locking up leaders and then denying is an old worn out tradition. It has been happening for the last 3 decades.”

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