Govt bars separatists from offering Friday prayers Geelani, Mirwaiz, Sehrai put under house arrest

The authorities Friday barred the separatist leaders including Hurriyat (G) chairman, Syed Ali Geelani and Hurriyat (M) chairman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq from offering Friday prayers. Mirwaiz Umar, chief cleric, was prevented from delivering sermon at Jamia Masjid, where congregational prayers were held.

Mirwaiz remained under continuous house arrest since Wednesday and was not allowed to move out of his Nigeen residence. Geelani was also not allowed to offer Friday prayers due to his continuous house detention. A Hurriyat (G) spokesperson said that in 2017 Geelani was stopped 48 times from offering Friday prayers. JKLF chairman Mohammad Yasin Malik remains lodged at Srinagar Central jail since Wednesday.

Geelani’s close aide and Tehreek-e-Hurriyat general secretary Mohd Ashraf Sehrai was also kept under house detention for the third consecutive day and was not allowed to offer Friday prayers, added the Hurriyat spokesperson. Among others Hurriyat (G) spokesman Ghulam Ahmad Gulzar, Mohammad Yusuf Naqash, Mohd Yasin Ataie and Syed Imtiyaz Hyder remain lodged in police stations. Soon after the Friday prayers, Mirwaiz tweeted, “First Friday of 2018, again disallowed from offering mandatory Friday prayers! The practice of chocking all political space also extended to exercising fundamental religious rights! what a shame !”
Talking to Rising Kashmir, Mirwaiz said it is shameful on part of the government that even on first Friday of the new-year he was not allowed to perform religious obligations.
“This is a clear message that 2018 won’t be any different that 2017 or 2016. They (government) will continue to muzzle our political voice. This is the height of autocracy,” Mirwaiz said.
He said while government is making appeal for talks it also continues to curb the movement of pro-freedom leadership. He said in 2017 the Friday prayers weren’t allowed for the record 19 times. “This year, which has just started, the government has shown its intentions,” he said. Slamming the authorities, Mirwaiz said there is “no bigger shame for the government than curbing the religious freedom of a person.”
“This won’t help them in bringing peace. Peace never comes on the gun point,” he said.
Terming it a “shameful operating procedure” to impose restrictions, he reiterated that the pulpit of Jamia Masjid is the “only place left out by the regime which represents the political aspirations of Kashmiris.”
“The pulpit of Jamia Masjid has always been representing political and socio-religious sentiments of Kashmiris,” added Mirwaiz.