Says youth being forced to take up arms; slogans raised for Zakir Musa after prayers lead to ‘minor’ stone-fighting
SRINAGAR: Amid slogans against “state terrorism” and “killing of unarmed innocent civilians”, senior resistance leader and Hurriyat Conference (M) chief Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on Friday delivered the sermon at Srinagar’s historic Jamia Masjid in which he said that the government has pushed Kashmiri youths to the wall, forcing them to pick up arms.
The Mughal-era Jamia Masjid was opened for Friday prayers after five weeks of lockdown by the government. The Mirwaiz resumed his place on the pulpit and said that despite the frequent bans on congregational Friday prayers, the Jamia Masjid will “continue to raise the voice of suppressed Kashmiris.”
“We want to clarify to the rulers that their power, tactics of harassment, and restrictions, curfews won’t deter the resolve of people,” he said. “If the government thinks that people of J&K will stop expressing their aspirations, it is on the wrong path.”
The Mirwaiz said that the Jamia Masjid for the past 300 years “has been a place of religious, political and social learning for people of J&K.”
“The government wants to silence this voice which emanates from Jamia Masjid – the voice which is for people’s right and justice,” he said.
“We won’t fear your tactics,” the Mirwaiz said to the government. “No power can stop us!”
Mirwaiz Farooq said that the biggest truth is that people of Jammu and Kashmir are being “suppressed through military power”.
“Youth are being pushed to the wall… they are forced to take up arms,” he said in his address.
Castigating the state government for regular curfews and restrictions imposed in old city areas of Srinagar, the Mirwaiz said that the people “won’t accept it”.
“Until and unless the issue of J&K is resolved according to wishes and aspirations of people,” he said, “the Jamia Masjid will be the voice of suppressed people, for their rights and for justice. It will continue to do so despite the government’s bans and restrictions.”
Condemning the arrests and harassment of pro-freedom youth and activists, he said, “Our leadership is being continuously jailed, put under house arrest, and the state has been practically turned into a military garrison.”
Soon after the congregational prayers ended, two groups of youth had an argument over slogans that one group was raising in favour of Al-Qaeda-affiliated militant Zakir Musa. “There was a fight as well between the groups,” said an eyewitness. “The situation was brought under control… there was minor stone-pelting.”
On opening of liquor shop at Srinagar Airport, Mirwaiz said that people of Muslim majority J&K won’t accept it.
“We are not against tourism but being a Muslim majority state, we have our own culture and aesthetics,” he said.
Warning of serious consequences, he charged the state government of “damaging the society” by allowing setting up of liquor shop at the airport.
“This is insult as the Airport is named after revered saint Sheikh-ul-Alam (RA),” he added.
He said that the liquor shops are running in Kashmir under tight security of government.
“At Sonwar, alcohol is being sold out a few metres away from hospital,” he said.