SRINAGAR: Signalling an improvement in the ground situation in Kashmir, the first prayers were offered at the historic Jamia Masjid (grand mosque) in Srinagar after 135 days on Wednesday. It was the first prayers at the mosque since scrapping of provisions of Article 370 on August 5.
People offered afternoon (Zuhr) prayers after the Jamia Masjid management decided to throw open the mosque. Around 200 people turned up at 1.30 pm at Nowhatta in downtown Srinagar after the Mouzein gave the Azaan (call for prayers) at 1 pm.
Police and paramilitary personnel remained on guard outside the mosque. The cleric (Imam) of the grand mosque said the management decided to open the mosque for devotees after improvement in the situation.
Asked whether the management had entered into an agreement with authorities, he said, "There is no agreement. We decided to offer prayers as shops now remain open till 2.30 pm and there is movement of people. Also, locks at the mosque’s main gate have been opened."
Asked whether Friday prayers will be offered at the mosque on December 20, the cleric said they will take a decision on that day. Friday prayers at Jamia are being led by Hurriyat Conference leader and cleric Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who is under house arrest since August 5 at his residence.
Friday prayers have not been offered at the mosque for a record 19 weeks since August 5. Earlier, the mosque management had told the authorities that no prayers would be offered there unless security personnel were fully withdrawn.