SRINAGAR: The government disallowed congregational Friday prayers at the Jamia Masjid for the tenth consecutive week, mosque managers said.

A woman attempted to open the lock of the main gate of Jamia Masjid Srinagar on October 15, 2021. Authorities disallowed Friday congregation in the historic mosque unlike Dargah Hazratbal and other major city mosques. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

The prayers were suspended at the mosque on August 13 after the rise in Covid-19 cases in Srinagar. The government had ordered the closure of all major shrines and mosques to prevent a possible third wave from taking effect.

Earlier, that month, the mosque had opened its doors to the public after months when authorities had allowed the congregational prayers at the mosque in the first week of August.

Few days earlier, the Auqaf had hoped that authorities would allow the re-opening of the grand mosque after the Covid-19 cases witnessed a drop. However, the permission was not granted and the congregational prayers were not allowed.

Anjuman Auqaf Jama Masjid in a statement said that there was a heavy deployment of the forces in the entire area since early morning.

The closure witnessed some of the women actually holding prayers in protest outside the main gate. A middle-aged woman actually broke down saying she had come for the first time after her father’s death but was shocked to see the mosque closed. Her father has been a regular to Jamia Masjid that had sent the distraught lady to the mosque.

A group of Muslim women protested against the continued locking of the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar on October 15, 2021. They later offered their prayers outside the locked gate. Authorities disallowed Friday congregation in the historic mosque unlike Dargah Hazratbal and other major city mosques. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

In a statement, the Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid said that state authorities did not allow congregational Friday prayers to be held at Jamia Masjid Srinagar today. Heavy deployment of forces was carried out since early morning in the entire area.

“When the Auqaf employees opened up the gates of the mosque, police personnel forced them to close all the gates and no namazis were allowed inside the mosque for offering the obligatory Friday prayers. A large group of namazis including women and children who had gathered outside the mosque protested this authoritarian move and demanded that they be allowed to go inside the mosque to offer prayers, but to no avail,” the statement read.

A photograph lifted from the official Facebook page of the Kashmir Tourism Department shows the historic Jamia Masjid.

Anjuman said that the earlier pretext of the Covid pandemic used by the authorities to prevent Muslims from offering Friday prayers at Jamia Masjid stands completely exposed today.

“It is extremely unfortunate and disdainful of the authorities to disallow Muslims of the valley from praying at the Central Mosque by use of brute force and cause then hurt and grief. Muslims of the valley denounce this injustice and interference in religious freedom in strongest terms the Anjuman said and register their protest,” the statement further read.

Interestingly, however, the authorities permitted the Friday prayers at the Hazratbal shrine and the Kahqah-e-Moalla. Hazratbal witnessed quite an impressive rush of the people to have prayers. This was the first congregation in the Hazratbal shrine in around four months.


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