For the first time in the history of Kashmir, the J&K administration has decided to disallow the major congregational gathering at the Kashmir’s revered shrine of Hazratbal in Srinagar on the eve of Eid-e-Milad-un Nabi (SAW), the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad (SAW).

A view of Dargah Hazratbal shrine on Saturday, November 09, 2019. KL Image by Bilal Bahadur

Every year, thousands of people would travel from far off districts of Kashmir to reach Hazratbal shrine for night-long prayers on the eve of 12th Rabi-ul-Awal, the birth anniversary of beloved Prophet (SAW). They would first participate in the night-long prayers for repentance and then have the glimpse of the holy relic of Prophet (SAW) after Fajr (pre-dawn prayers). The holy relic would then be displayed after every prayer of the day on 12th Rabi-ul-Awal, where emotional scenes would be witnessed every time the relic was being displayed.

However, this year, for the first time in the history, the J&K security grid on the directions of administration, has decided to ensure no major gathering takes place at Hazratbal shrine this year following two reasons—abrogation of article 370, bifurcation of erstwhile state into two Union Territories (UTs)—J&K and Ladakh and the Ayodhya verdict by the Supreme Court.

A top security official told news agency KNO that given the security scenario, a plan has been devised that entails to ensure no major crowd or gathering takes place at Hazratbal shrine on Milad eve. “We will not allow anybody from districts to march towards Hazratbal shrine. However, a local gathering will be allowed and holy relic will also be displayed for those who will be able to reach the shrine,” he said, wishing not to be named. He said that additional security deployment will be put in place across Srinagar including Hazratbal and its adjoining areas to ensure that no “law and order disturbance takes place.”

The decision to curtail the number of devotees at the Hazaratbal shrine has hurt the religious sentiments of people of Kashmir, who have emotional and spiritual attachment with the shrine as it houses the holy relic of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). “This is direct religious interference. People of Kashmir would wait for this day throughout the year to have glimpse of holy relic, but today, we are not we can’t go to the shrine,” said Abdur Rashid Makhdoomi, a resident of downtown Srinagar.

A senior care taker at the Hazratbal shrine said that they have made all the arrangements for the Eid-e-Milad un-Nabi (SAW) to be observed on 12th Rabi-ul-Awal and also for the night-long prayers also known as Shab-e-Milad (SAW). “We don’t know how many people would turn up for night-long prayers and on the next day when relic will be displayed for devotees for five times a day. It is for the government to decide whether to allow people to allow to reach Hazratbal,” he said. (KNO)


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