Srinagar, September 22
Moderate separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, visibly moved, took the historic Jamia Masjid pulpit to address the Friday sermon after enduring four years of house detention.
While drones were hovering over the Jamia Masjid, Mirwaiz delivered a powerful message of peace while asserting war is not an option.
He emphasised the division that has befallen Jammu and Kashmir, with one part in India, one in Pakistan, and one in China, underscoring the urgent need for resolution.
“Therefore, this issue needs to be resolved. The J&K issue can be a territorial issue for many, but for the people of J&K, this is an issue of humanity,” he said.
“Kashmir must find a path to resolution through dialogue, as we have consistently advocated. It is regrettable that we have been labelled as separatists and anti-national elements. Our role is to represent the sentiments of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” 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 due to which I couldn’t perform my duties as Mirwaiz (Head Priest),” he said.
“After August 5, 2019, times for you were difficult. The identity of J&K was snatched and Ladakh was separated from us. The position of Mirwaiz has always been in favour of talks, peace and dialogue,” he said.
“We ardently desire a peaceful resolution for Kashmir, and our commitment to communal harmony remains unwavering. We have always stressed the importance of the return of Kashmiri Pandits,” he said.
Mirwaiz was placed under house arrest in August 2019 in the run-up to the abrogation of Article 370.
His release comes after he had approached the J&K High Court, seeking his release.
In March last year, Kashmir’s largest mosque — Jamia Masjid in Srinagar — was reopened for Friday prayers after remaining largely shut for congregational prayers since August 2019.
Located at Nowhatta locality, the 14th-century architectural marvel is the biggest cultural and religious centre in Kashmir. It was closed for congregational prayers following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.
After being opened briefly, the mosque, where 40,000 people can pray at one time, was shut again due to the Covid restrictions.
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