Historic mosque’s roof, walls in danger of collapse
SHOPIAN: Despite years of dispute having passed, during which the heads of both parties have died, Jamia Masjid Shopian’s case is still in court. Now decaying, the mosque needs immediate steps to be taken for its renovation, or else the day is not far when this sacred historical structure will collapse.
While the heads of both the parties who have cases against each other are now deceased, the people of Shopian still have no access to make repairs to the mosque or renovate the structure.
Molvi Abdul Hameed died last winter, and so did Nazir Ahmad Khan, the former president of the mosque.
Senior advocate Muhammad Iqbal Shah told Kashmir Reader that both the parties have been accused of embezzlement by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and they have no legal right to be the president or in the mosque Awkaf committee.
“We want to offer prayers normally as do the people in other areas, but when the court has given authority to Assistant Commissioner Revenue (ACR), we are not able to look after the mosque,” he said adding that the people of the area want to constitute a new Awkaf committee which could run the affairs of the mosque.
Locals demand that the Awkaf committee should be constituted through elections. “A full-fledged body should be constituted through elections and people from every part of the district, whether they are from village or town, should take part in it,” Shabir Ahmad, a local, said.
People who live next to the mosque said that it is in dire need of immediate renovation, or it will soon collapse. “There is no arrangement either for cleanliness or of any other kind. Bird droppings are spread in every nook and corner of the mosque, but nobody takes any care of that,” said Ali Muhammad, an elderly man who, according to him, offers every Friday’s prayers in the Shopian Jamia Masjid after travelling 15 kilometres.
The mosque has sustained cracks in the walls and, due to leaks in the decayed tin roof, at many places, the bricks of the walls have also decayed.
“The electric wires are defunct, there is no matting arrangement and tiles have broken, but neither is the government serious about it nor is the court, which delays the hearings regarding the cases,” Showkat Shafi, another local resident, said adding that the cases regarding the Jamia Masjid should be fought against the parties who are accused of loot and embezzlement.
“Isn’t it an irony that the mosque is about to collapse and the parties who have cases are roaming free? Has the mosque caused any embezzlement or wrong to anyone? If not, why have both people and the government left the mosque in such a condition?” he asked.
Locals said that the mosque has dozens of shops and structures given out on rent by the previous committee, which, according to them, should also be revived.
“The shops and business establishments have been given to the then committee’s near and dear ones. Both the rent rates should be reviewed and prescribed by a new committee and those who have failed to pay the rents should be dealt with strictly – they should be made to vacate the structures,” another local said, wishing not to be named.
The Shopian Jamia Masjid was constructed in the 1940s over a span of 15 years. The mosque was constructed on the lines of Jamia Masjid Srinagar, with no external monetary help but by donations from the locals. Even women donated gold and silver ornaments for the construction of the mosque.
The ACR Shopian told Kashmir Reader that his office is planning for the major development of Jamia Masjid Shopian.
“We will start work on it after this holy month, to avoid inconvenience to people. For that purpose, we will take in consideration the Roads and Buildings and the Public Health Engineering departments to give us their estimate for the works,” he said, adding that the decayed tin roof replacement is also in the plan.
“I have asked for a safety audit from the Fire and Emergency Department, so that every safety arrangement would be made to save and revive this historical Mosque,” he said.
Hussain added that cleanliness arrangements will be also revived. “We will also look at the rent rates of the shops and business establishments at this mosque,” he assured, adding that the work will be done in different phases.