Srinagar, September 22
War is not an option and dialogue is needed to resolve the Kashmir issue, said moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq who took the historic Jamia Masjid pulpit for the Friday sermon after enduring four years of house detention. While drones were hovering over Jamia Masjid, Mirwaiz emphasised the division that had befallen J&K, with one part in India, one in Pakistan and one in China, underscoring the urgent need for resolution.
Tussle for credit
Mirwaiz is held in high regard across J&K. Unfortunate that a tussle has begun to claim credit for his release. Mehbooba Mufti, PDP president
I hope the administration will allow him to move freely, interact with people and resume his religious responsibilities. Omar Abdullah, Vice-president, NC
“J&K can be a territorial issue for many, but for the people of J&K, this is an issue of humanity. Kashmir must find a path to resolution through dialogue, as we have consistently advocated. It is regrettable that we have been labeled as separatists and anti-national elements. Our role is to represent the sentiments of the J&K people,” he said. Mirwaiz’s return to the pulpit was marked not only by his words but by the deep emotions that resonated with the people who assembled in thousands to welcome him with sloganeering and showering confectioneries at him.
“After 212 Fridays I am meeting you. People are aware that after August, 4, 2019, I was kept under house detention and I was not being allowed to move out of my house due to which I couldn’t perform my duties as Mirwaiz (head priest),” he said.
Mirwaiz was placed under house arrest in August 2019 in the run up to the abrogation of Article 370. His release came after he had approached the High Court of J&K and Ladakh.
Meanwhile, Kashmir Divisional Commissioner Vijay Kumar Bidhuri said the prayers led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq of the Hurriyat Conference had concluded peacefully. Political parties welcomed the release of Mirwaiz. National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah expressed hope that Mirwaiz would regain his freedom, engage with the community and resume his social and religious duties.
He wrote on X, “I welcome the step taken by the administration in Jammu and Kashmir to release Mirwaiz Umar Farooq from house arrest.”
PDP president and ex-Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, hailing Mirwaiz’s release, said he was held in high regard by Muslims across J&K. “Unfortunate that a tussle has already begun between BJP's various political outfits to claim credit for his release,” she stated.
Apni Party chief Altaf Bukhari hoped Mirwaiz would contribute positively to shaping society for a better and more peaceful tomorrow. He expressed gratitude to Union Home Minister Amit Shah and L-G Manoj Sinha for allowing Mirwaiz to lead Friday prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid.
Salman Nizami, the chief spokesperson of the Democratic Progressive Azad Party (DPAP), called for the release of all clerics, highlighting their potential “positive influence on the younger generation”.
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