SRINAGAR: For the first time since 2010, Friday prayers were not allowed at Jamia Masjid Srinagar in the holy month of Ramazan. The pro-freedom leadership had called for protests after Friday congregational prayers against the killing of a youth in Shopian by government troops on Tuesday.
From early morning, government forces began laying barricades on all roads leading to the mosque. All the entry gates of the mosque were locked down. Vehicles of government troops stood guard outside the main gate of the mosque.
“I came here from Buchpora to offer prayers, but I saw the mosque locked,” said Ali Mohammad, wearing the prayer cap on his head. “I had no idea that the government would lock the mosque during Ramazan. It had happened only once, in 2010.”
Friday prayers during Ramazan hold an important value. More devotees come to offer prayers during Ramazan than in usual days. Women, too, attend in large numbers. For the faithful, the Awaqf-Islamia Jamia, the caretaker body of the mosque, begins making arrangements from Thursday evening.
Mohammad Ramazan, one of the caretakers of the mosque, told Kashmir Reader that a meeting is held a day ahead of the Friday prayers in which the gathering for the Friday prayers is assessed, the cleansing staff is kept alert, and men kept ready for any contingency.
“We assess all the possibilities. If the gathering would be high, we identify places where to pitch tents for the people. We had planned the same for this Friday,” Ramazan said. For this Friday, the caretakers had imagined a large gathering in the lawns outside the mosque, he said.
Last year, the Jamia mosque had remained closed for nearly four months during the anti-India uprising instigated by the killing of Burhan Wani. The mosque built by 15th century Muslim king Sultan Sikander is the epicenter of protests in Srinagar on every Friday.
The mosque remained closed for years during the Sikh and Dogra rule.