Amid presence of forces outside the historic Jamia Masjid, no congregational Friday prayers were held for the 17th straight week at the historic Jamia Masjid situated in Old City’s Nowhatta area of Srinagar.According to the wire service—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), the Jammu and Kashmir police on last Friday stated that curbs imposed in and around Jamia Masjid here were lifted and the Jamia Auqaf was also asked to offer prayers. However, Jamia management refused to offer prayers at the Masjid amid the presence of forces. Police continued to stick to its earlier statement and reiterated that "there were no curbs in place and Aquaf was free to organise Friday prayers."The deployment of forces outside the Jamia Masjid continued since August 5, when the government in centre abrogated the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the erstwhile State into two Union Territories.Eye-witnesses said that a huge contingent of police and paramilitary troopers continued to man the roads outside the Jamia Masjid today since the wee hours of this morning.They said that the mandatory congregational prayers were not held at the historic Masjid today as well. The administration had barred people from offering the prayers for 15 consecutive Fridays following which the police claimed to have lifted the restrictions and conveyed to the Jamia management that it can now offer the prayers there.Witnesses said that the main gate of the Jamia Masjid remained open today while as the four gates remained locked.
The Jamia Auqaf member while talking to KNO said that the presence of forces continued outside the MAsjid, following which it was decided that no prayers will be held there today as well. “We have already demanded authorities to lift the forces around the Jamia Masjid and allow us to cleansing the Masjid. We will offer the prayers only after the forces will be vacated,” he said.Meanwhile, a half-day shutdown continued across the Valley to protest against the abrogation of Article 370.Witnesses said that all the shops and other business establishments remained open till afternoon following which spontaneous shutdown was observed.They said that the traffic including private as well as public was seen plying throughout the day, adding that the public transporters were seen ferrying the passengers till late evening today.Pertinently, the mainstream leaders affiliated with different political parties including the three former chief ministers—Dr. Farooq Abdullah, his son Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti continued to remain under detention. The leaders were detained on August 5.Moreover, the internet services-broadband as well as mobile, pre-paid mobile services and SMS services remained suspended across the Valley since August 5. The Union Home Minister Amit Shah during the ongoing parliament session has said that the internet facilities in the Valley will be released at appropriate time. (KNO)