Biggest congregation at Jamia Masjid Srinagar*Pro-Gaza rallies across Kashmir * Dozens injured in clashes; Geelani, others caged
Kashmir observed Jumat-ul-Vida, the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, as ‘Youm-e-Qudus’ with biggest congregation held at historic Jamia Masjid in old Srinagar. The day was also marked by anti-Israel and pro-Gaza rallies amid sporadic clashes between youth and forces in many places across the Valley, especially in old city that left dozens of youth, apart from a police officer, injured.
Youm-e-Qudus is an annual event initiated by Iran in 1979 to express solidarity with Palestinians and oppose Zionism. An estimated two lakh people thronged the historic Jamia Masjid here for prayers. Kashmir’s chief cleric, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, delivered the Friday sermon there, urging Muslims to stay united.
The Hazratbal shrine on Srinagar outskirts, which houses the holy relic of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), also witnessed a massive gathering of people Friday. In his Friday sermon, the Imam of Hazratbal shrine, Bashir-u-din Farooqi, strongly condemned the Israeli aggression on Gaza, terming it as “genocide of Muslims” and urged the international community to play their role in ending the carnage.
The revered shrine of Hazrat Sheikh NooruddinNoorani (RA) in Chrar-e-Sharief (in Budgam district) also witnessed a huge public gathering.
Congregational Friday prayers were also held in all Masjids and shrines in Srinagar including Masjid Jamiat-e-Ahle Hadith Gawkadal; Asar-e-Sharif Janab Sahib Soura; Asar-e-Sharif ShehriKalashpora; Ziarat-e-Makhdoom Sahib; Khanqah-e-Moulla and different Imambaras.
Soon after congregational Friday prayers, hundreds of people amid anti-Israel slogans took out a rally at Jamia Masjid Srinagar. Dozens of youth later resorted to stone-pelting at police and paramilitary forces.
According to eyewitnesses, heavy stone-pelting was witnessed at Nowhattachowk and Khawjabazar area. Police resorted to teargas shelling to quell the angry demonstrators.
Reports said a massive protest demonstration was taken out in Budgam by senior Hurriyat (M) leader Aga Syed Hassan Al Mousvi against the Israeli aggression in Gaza. “Israel and US are our common enemies. We must unite against Israel which is killing innocent people in Gaza,” said angry protestors. The Hurriyat (M) leaders also led an anti-Israel protest rally in Sopore, Pulwama, Shopian and other district headquarters. Masroor Abbas Ansari led a protest rally in Chattabal.
In Islamabad (Anantnag) district, Friday congregations were held in Jamia Masjid Hanfia; Jamia Masjid Ahlihadith; RehatDed Masjid and Bait-ul-Mukaram Masjid as well as DargahKhiram; Kaba Marg; Ziyarat-Sharief of Sheikh Zain-u-Din Wali (RA) Aishmuqam and Seer Hamdan.
In Kulgam, congregational Friday prayers were held in Ziyarat-e-Sharief Syed Simnania (RA) Qaimoh, JamiaAhlihadithKhudwani and other Masjids. Congregational prayers were also held in KhankahiFaizpanaTral, Awantipora, PamporeJamia Masjid and Tak Masjid in Shopian and Jamia Masjid Pulwama. Massive protests were held in entire South Kashmir against the Israeli aggression in Gaza. In Islamabad town, Police and paramilitary forces were deployed in large numbers to thwart any attempts at protests. “However, as soon as the Friday prayers concluded, people in large numbers gathered outside Jamia-Ahlihadith and RehatDed Masjid and started marching towards LalChowk. The protesters were shouting anti-Israel, anti-US, anti-India slogans and pro-freedom slogans,” reports said.
Reports of protests were also received from Achabal and Bijbehara areas of the district.
In Kaimoh area of Kulgam district, where a teenager was shot dead by government forces last week, held anti-Israel protests. Carrying placards and banners reading “Down with Zionists”, “Down with US”, the people were shouting pro-Palestine, anti-Israel, pro-freedom and anti-India slogans.
Protest demonstrations were held in Khudwani, Redwani and HawooraMishpoora area of Kaimoh. In Kulgam town also, anti-Israel protests were held.
Reports of massive protest demonstrations were received from Pulwama, Awantipora, Pampore and Rajpora areas of Pulwama district. In Shopian town, massive anti-Israel demonstrations were carried out from Jamia Masjid and Tak Masjid. “People were wearing black arm bands and carrying banners and placards in solidarity with Palestine,” eyewitnesses said. According to reports, massive clashes erupted in Tral. Police had to resort to aerial firing and tear-gas shelling to disperse the protesters. As per reports, at least 10 people including SHO TralNazir Ahmed were injured in the clashes.
Massive protests erupted in Kupwara town immediately after the Friday prayers with thousands of people staging anti-Israel rally amid pro-Gaza and pro-Palestine slogans. Reports of similar protests poured in from Handwara, Lalpora and Trehgam towns of Kupwara. The protestors were demanding end to innocent killings of people in Gaza. Anti-Israel rallies were also taken from Kunzar area of Tangmarg by the employees and civil society members.
Senior leaders of Hurriyat Conference (G) were placed under house arrest Friday to prevent them from leading anti-Israel protest rallies, a party spokesman said. Syed Ali Geelani, chairman of his faction of Hurriyat Conference, had urged people to observe Jumat-ul Vida (the last Friday of Ramadan) as ‘Youm-e-Qudus’. Geelani had called for hour-long peaceful protests after Friday prayers to protest the use of brute force against Palestinians by Israeli forces.
“Other than GeelaniSahab, who is already under house arrest, Muhammad Ashraf Sehrai, Altaf Shah and Ayaz Akbar were also barred from moving out of their houses,” the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Geelani in a statement issued here, condemned the decision of authorities to bar him from offering Friday prayers. “This reflects the worst form of State terrorism,” he said.
Senior Hurriyat (M) leaders that include Moulana Abbas Ansari, MukhtarWaza, Syed SaleemGeelani, Zafar Akbar Bhat were placed under house arrest while Hilal War and Hakeem Abdur Rashid were taken into preventive custody.
Senior JK Hurriyat Conference leader Shabir Ahmed Shah was detained while leaving for Hazratbal to offer Friday prayers. Another JKHC leader Nayeem Ahmed Khan has been placed under house arrest.
Many areas of the city witnessed traffic jams despite the measures taken by the Traffic department to ensure smooth flow of vehicular movement.
“We had put sufficient number of passenger vehicles for the service of devotees for both Jumat-ul-Vida and Shab-e-Qadr. Several measures were taken to ensure smooth flow of traffic,” said Regional Transport Officer, Mehmood Shah.