SRINAGAR: The joint resistance leadership on Saturday expressed strong resentment and concern over “repeated and arbitrary curfews” in downtown Srinagar and came down heavily against the lockdown of Jamia Masjid Srinagar.
In a statement, the joint leadership of Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik said that “locking down the central Jamia Masjid”, especially on Fridays was aimed at “weakening the centrality and significance” of the grand mosque.
“The historic Jamia Masjid is not only the spiritual centre of confluence for the people of Kashmir but also representative of their political consciousness and aspirations,” a joint statement issued in Srinagar said. “It is a deliberate bid to silence the voice of truth and justice raised from the pulpit of this historic mosque for decades.”
The leaders said the frequent imposition of curfews and restrictions has taken a serious toll on trade and other business activities of people in downtown, who are incurring huge losses. “Students of the area are also made to suffer as they are caged inside and their institutions locked out,” the joint statement said.
Leadership also expressed serious concern over the continued policy of “oppression and persecution” of people by authorities. “The killing of youth, arresting and detaining them under one pretext or the other while invoking draconian laws like PSA to keep them under illegal detention also continues unabated. CASO operations by armed forces continue daily, especially in south Kashmir villages where people are harassed and homes vandalised.”
The leaders said that schools, colleges and universities were locked down and information channels blocked frequently “by raising the bogey of maintaining law and order”. In the statement, they said that lockdowns caused “distress” to students and “hardships” to general populace. “There is a blanket ban on our movement and meeting people as we are either caged at homes or detained in jails while tens of dozens of pro-freedom leaders and activists have been lodged in infamous jails across J&K and India where many are even denied medical facilities.”
Geelani, Mirwaiz and Malik said such “oppressive measures” will not succeed in “crushing the people’s spirit”. They said that people of Kashmir were offering priceless sacrifices for the right to self-determination. “New Delhi should acknowledge the ground realities in Kashmir and take concrete steps to resolve the issue as per the will and aspirations of people,” the statement said.