“Masjid has developed cracks and water leaks through the roof”
Shopian: Historical Jamia Masjid here has water leaking through its roof, its tin roof is rusting, and dozens of cracks have appeared in its walls. The management turned into a money-grab, people of the town allege.
Residents of the town blame former management committee presidents and government authorities for money grab and destruction of this historical masjid. The affairs of the masjid have since been handed over to the deputy commissioner’s office by a courts order.
Jamia Masjid Shopian has historical significance as it is one of the few places of worship constructed by masses without any monetary help from the kings, as is the case with many such places.
A local shopkeeper, Zahid Dar, said that this mosque has dozens of cracks on its walls due to which water leaks through the roof of the mosque. “The tin roof of the mosque is rusting. Nobody took care of the masjid as parties were busy in quarrels,” he said of the work of previous management committees.
Residents allege that management committees as well as government officials grabbed money meant for the repair of the masjid.
This masjid has more than 50 shops and regular monitory donation by masses. The question on everybody’s mind is: Where did the money go? “Who will make repairs in the mosque?” asks a resident.
Muhammad Yousuf Zargar, who lives next to the masjid, said that people want to offer prayers and affairs of the masjid should be run by the people chosen by the residents and not by the court. “Due to the controversies between parties, we not able to offer prayers, worse the masjid has developed cracks and water leaks but nobody cares for it,” he said.
Zargar added that if immediate steps were not be taken, the day was not far when “this beautiful masjid will turn into ruins”.
Suhail Ahmad, resident from Pinjora, said that the masjid has crores of rupees of donations from common people besides the 50 or more shops in Shopian market. “But there isn’t a single penny for the repairs,” he said.
The masjid management was in controversy for almost ten years at the end of which it took a violent turn. Two groups, fighting over the fraud in collection and expenditure of funds came to blows and the control was handed over to the DC’s office by order of district court in the town.
According to experts the mosque has immediate repair needs: replacing the tin roof being the most urgent. But no one is paying attention.
The construction of the masjid was undertaken in three phases extending to fifteen years. Ustab Habib-ul-ullah of Srinagar was hired to supervise the construction of the mosque.
Jana Begum (75) from Shopian told Kashmir Reader, “Women in large number gifted their golden-silver ornaments for the construction of this masjid. People even put a piece of land in the name of this masjid, and a share of the harvest was given to the mosque.”
Abdul Khaliq Ganie, another resident, said that people used to work from dawn to dusk to build this mosque. “We used to carry stones from rivulet, and used to rub bricks to get a modern type finish on them,” he said.
“It was gift of our elders but some people were hell bent to destroy its peace,” he lamented.