Srinagar: Government authorities on Friday disallowed weekly Friday prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid here and put Mirwaiz Umar Farooq under house arrest. Government forces blocked all routes leading to the mosque and sealed all the gates of the mosque. Policemen were seen questioning bystanders and anyone who tried to move towards the mosque.
The authorities also imposed restrictions on public assembly and public movement in several parts of Srinagar’s old city, including in Nowhatta where the Jamia Masjid is located.
Reports said that barricades were erected at several places in the old city and people were not allowed to go beyond them. The barricades and also concertina wires were laid across roads at Hawal, Gojwara, Nowhatta, Khanyar and adjoining areas.
A police officer said that the restrictions had been imposed as a precautionary measure to prevent any “law and order situation.”
The Mirwaiz was placed under house arrest in the morning, soon after reports of clashes inside Srinagar’s Central Jail started coming in.
“Strongly denounce lock down of JamaMasjid and imposition of restrictions in downtown Srinagar as today being Friday following Mehraj special Dua Majlis was to be held. It is unacceptable that every other Friday Jamia is forcibly locked, prayers barred and I am put under House Arrest,” Mirwaiz said in a tweet.
The Shehar-e-Khaas Coordination Committee strongly hit out at the administration for imposing curbs in downtown areas. “It’s a daily routine now that we are witnessing these restrictions every day. How can we do our business in these circumstances? Every customer gets diverted to other areas where they can shop, resulting in big losses to our business,” said Nazir Ahmad Shah, president of the committee.
Vice president of the committee, Basir Ahmad, said, “We are always becoming the victims. Our business suffers every year. First there was the harsh winter when no business was there, now it is the peak season but the administration does not want us to do business smoothly.”
“We strongly condemn the restrictions in our area and demand this exercise should stop on immediate basis,” he further said.