Police, Auqaf agree on ‘Truce Plan’ inside Jamia Masjid premises

In a rare move, Jammu and Kashmir police and the caretaker body of historical Jamia Masjid, Anjuman-e-Auqaf, have agreed on a ‘truce plan’ that would see at least 40 volunteers deployed at the entry and exit points of Jamia Masjid so that no protester is allowed inside fences after the prayers. Police, the Auqaf members disclosed, have also agreed not to depute any police or force personnel inside the Masjid premises. Head of Anjuman-e-Auqaf and the key resistance leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has approved the need to involve volunteers “in order to restore the sanctity of the worship” at the grand mosque.
At least 50 persons were injured last Friday when the police chased protesters inside the mosque and even fired live ammunition into the 14th Century Jamia Masjid. Pellets were fired inside the mosque injuring many worshippers and leaving a portion of the mosque splattered with blood, sparking an outpouring of condemnation from various social and political quarters including Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Office bearers of the Anjuman-e-Auqaf confirmed to Kashmir Post that the ‘truce’ plan was agreed upon after a weeklong deliberation between police high-ups and the Mosque’s management. Besides Auqaf, trade bodies and social activists from Srinagar’s downtown areas also participated in the discussions aimed at ensuring peaceful Friday congregations at the Jamia Masjid.
“Tomorrow it will be a two way process. While police would try its best not to engage with the protestors, Anjuman-e-Jamia Auqaf will depute volunteers at the main entrance gates of the grand masjid to ensure protestors don’t enter inside the mosque or its premises as seen on last Friday,” an Auqaf functionary said.
Confirming the negotiations with Auqaf members, traders and social activists from downtown, senior superintendent police Srinagar Ismtiyaz Ismail said all aspects of the need to ensure peaceful prayers at the mosque were discussed. “We have considered their suggestions, let’s see how it works tomorrow,” the SSP told Kashmir Post.
General Secretary Anjuman-e-Auqaf Jamia Masjid Srinagar, Altaf Ahmed said the chairman of the Auqaf, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq recently chaired a meeting of the mosque’s managing body and acknowledged the need to ensure peace during Friday prayers at the mosque. “We have taken on board the elderly people living around Jamia Majid and also the local Imams of all the adjoining masjids. They extended full support so that no clashes took place in the premises of the Masjid,” Altaf asserted adding that one of the major decisions included the deployment of at least 30 to 40 volunteers, both young and elderly, at the entry and exit gates of Jamia Masjid on Fridays. The purpose of this deployment, he said, is to discourage protesters to enter the mosque premises should they happen to clash with the forces outside the mosque. “These volunteers will offer Friday prayers in other mosques. As soon as they are done with their prayers they will reach the gates and stand guard till all the worshippers leave,” the Auqaf General Secretary said adding, “This is all we can do, rest God knows better.”
A police source said that it would be to tackle the protestors on the streets of Nowhatta and adjoining areas if clashes erupt. “It’s always difficult to chase them when they enter into the premises of Jamia and later take refuge inside the mosque,” he said.
President Shahr-e-Khass Traders Coordination Committee Nazir Ahmed Shah said that they called on Inspector General of Police Kashmir range Swayam Prakash Pani and SSP Srinagar Imtiaz Ismail and suggested measures about how to ensure peace at Jamia Masjid on Fridays. Shah said the delegation asked police authorities not to choke the businesses around the mosque by imposing restrictions and deploying forces in large numbers. “Our businesses have been suffering for long. Now that the holy occasions like Shab-i-Qadr, Jumat-ul-Vida and Eid-ul-Fitr are approaching we expect that the business activities pick up around the area.”
Thousands of people who visit Jamia Masjid on Jumat-ul Vida for congregational prayers are mostly potential shoppers and the local businesses usually look forward to such occasions but for past many years they have almost always suffered due to restrictions, clashes and heavy deployment of forces.
Jamia Masjid has for many decades, especially during past thirty years, been the centre of anti-India protests. These protests usually erupt after Friday prayers. Boys in recent past were seen waving ISIS and Lashkar-e-Toiba flags from the walls of the grand mosque. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who regularly speaks to the Friday congregation from the pulpit of this heritage mosque, is also part of the Joint Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani and Yasin Malik.

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