Srinagar: No Friday prayers were allowed in the historic Jamia Masjid in downtown Srinagar, where curfew-like restrictions remained imposed for the second day in view of strike called by separatists against alleged attempts being made to abrogate Article 35-A.
Official sources told UNI that restrictions under Section 144 of CrPc has been imposed within the areas
falling under seven police stations of Srinagar district, including Khanyar, Nowhatta, Safakadal, MR Gunj, Rainawari in downtown and Kralkhud in the old town, Maisuma in civil lines to prevent protests.
All the roads leading to Jamia Masjid, where chairman of moderate HC Mirwaiz Moulvi Umar Farooq, who was placed under house arrest on Wednesday night, addresses congregation every Friday, remained closed with barbed wire.
The Joint Resistance Leadership, comprising Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Moulvi Omar Farooq and Mohammad Yaseen Malik, had called for a two-day strike from Thursday against alleged attempts being made to abrogate the Article, which empowers the Jammu and Kashmir state’s legislature to define “permanent residents” of the state. The Article provides special rights and privileges to the permanent residents of the state.
A large number of security forces and state police personnel remained deployed outside the Masjid and adjoining areas to stop any movement on the roads.
“There was also no ‘Azaan’ (call for prayers) in the historic Masjid today,” local residents said, alleging that nobody was being allowed to enter the area.
However, prayers were offered in the Valley, barring in mosques on main roads in the areas where restrictions were imposed.
Friday prayers were offered at Hazratbal shrine, which houses the holy Relic of Prophet Muhammad, on the bank of Dal Lake though the number of devotees was again very less as compared to even normal days as people could not come from other parts of the valley fearing trouble.
Reports of offering of Friday prayers were also received from other parts of the valley.
About half a dozen petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court (DC), demanding scrapping of the Article. However, mainstream political parties, including National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Communist Party of India (M), Kashmir Bar Association, traders and civil society have filed counter petitions, demanding continuation of the Article.
But, the SC again adjourned its hearing on the pleas challenging the constitutional validity of Article 35-A, this time until January 2019.