2 decades on, mosque in Civil Secretariat remains locked

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Srinagar: Muslim employees of the Civil Secretariat have to face inconvenience during Ramadan as the mosque in the complex remains shut for the past two decades for unknown reasons.
During the tenure of former Chief Minister Ghulam Mohammad Shah (1984-86), two mosques, one each in Srinagar and Jammu, were constructed in the Secretariat complex. However, both the mosques were closed only after few months due to unknown reasons.
The employees are seen offering afternoon prayers in the open under the scorching summer heat. They say they face inconvenience in offering prayers under harsh sun and during bad weather.
“No reason was offered for shutting down the mosque. But it is believed that some non-Muslim officials objected the opening of the mosques in Civil Secretariat, and the then CM, GM Shah, was criticised for having religious leanings,” a group of employees in the Secretariat told Kashmir.
During the same time, a temple named ‘Astan Bowadati’ was opened in the hall of Assembly complex Jammu inside the Civil Secretariat premises, said the employees.
The temple is run by a Trust, and every year special prayers are held there during which people from outside are also invited.
“The government wanted to close the temple and the Estate Department sent a notice to the Trust to dismantle it. But the Trust challenged the notice in court claiming that the property belongs to them. The case is still in the court,” the employees said, wishing not to be named.
They said if the state has problems with having a mosque inside the Secretariat, how they are allowing the temple to function in Jammu Secretariat.
“We are not against the presence of the temple. The Hindu employees of the Secretariat have every right to pray in the temple, but we want the mosque to be functional both at Srinagar and Jammu Secretariat,” the employees added.
“Jammu and Kashmir is a Muslim majority state and most of employees in the Secretariat are Muslims. So the state should have no problem in allowing the mosque inside the Secretariat premises,” the employees said.
While the temple inside the Secretariat premises under the Legislative Assembly complex has been allowed to function, the mosque was razed to the ground last year.
This year, the issue of demolition of the mosque was raised during the Assembly’s Budget Session after opposition People’s Democratic Party legislator Javed Mustafa Mir launched protests.
He was countered by BJP legislator Ashok Khajuria, who claimed that there was no mosque inside the Secretariat premises and that his party will not allow any such construction.
However, in response, the government assured the protesting legislators that the mosque will be reconstructed shortly.
“One side of the mosque was damaged last year during the construction of new Assembly complex in Jammu and then the whole mosque was demolished after the government decided that new one will be reconstructed at the place.
“I assure it before the House that it will be reconstructed soon,” Roads and Buildings Minister, Abdul Majeed Wani said on the floor of the House.