Day 5: No prayers in Hazratbal shrine
‘Prayers Only After Police Barracks Removed’
Srinagar, Aug 18: The residents of Dargah Hazratbal continued to offer congregational five-time prayers on road for the fifth straight day Wednesday, asserting that no prayers would be offered inside the shrine till police barracks are shifted from the complex.
While the state government Tuesday assured the residents that it would “examine” their demands, the residents alleged that the promise was just a hoax and the government was delaying shifting of the barracks.
The residents have established a makeshift tent on the “VIP road” Hazratbal, where they offer the congregational prayers. “We will offer prayers inside the shrine only after our demands are met,” they said.
The demands include removal of police barracks from the shrine complex, transfer of police companies involved in beating of devotees on Saturday and minimal deployment of police to man the shrine.
On Wednesday, the Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Meraj Ahmad Kakroo, and SSP Srinagar, Ashiq Hussain Bukhari, visited Hazratbal to ascertain the situation. They entered into a dialogue with senior citizens of Hazratbal who apprised the officers about the people’s demands.
The talks, the witnesses said, failed when the SSP categorically refused to shift the police barracks while the DC sought time on the issue. The meeting was also attended by SP Hazratbal Maqsood-uz-Zaman and Waqf Board vice-chairman, Prof MY Qadri.
Sources said the officers agreed to minimize concentration of police in the shrine premises, but locals refused to budge over barracks removal demand.
“There is no need of two companies of police to man the shrine,” the residents reiterated. “Let there be some cops to look after it. But beyond that, we won’t permit the cops to roam around the shrine. The policemen search the devotees before they enter into the shrine, which is completely unethical,” said the residents.
The demilitarization demand is gaining momentum with each passing day. What is irking the residents is the government’s inaction. “The government is taking things lightly, notwithstanding that it has been fifth day when there have been no prayers inside the shrine. It is highly condemnable that government is taking the devotees for-granted and not acting on the demands immediately,” said Ashiq, a local resident.
It is for the second time in the past two decades that no prayers have been offered inside the Kashmir’s biggest shrine, housing the holy relic of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Earlier it had happened during the 1993 Hazratbal siege.
The residents have also demanded that the shrine be cleansed before prayers resume, a demand readily accepted by the Muslim Waqf Board.
While the stalemate is on, some residents alleged that police was harassing them for not calling off the protests. “We are not asking for anything special or something that can’t be considered. We are seeking removal of police barracks which have been established within the densely populated locality,” the residents said. “But for this simple demand, police is threatening us of dire consequences in case we don’t lift the protests. Earlier police asked us to protest peacefully. Now that we are protesting peacefully, they want us to end the protests. It is highly unfortunate.”
The Hazratbal crisis erupted on Saturday when policemen beat up peaceful protesters inside the shrine, causing injuries to at least 30 persons including women. Police allegedly broke several windowpanes of the shrine. The police action evoked widespread condemnation from different quarters.
Meanwhile, a non-political organization Anjuman-i-Khudaman-I-Ziarat Aasar-i-Sharief Hazratbal has condemned Saturday’s police action on devotees inside the Hazratbal shrine.
In a statement here, the organization’s chairman Dr Kamal ud Din Farooqui said it was highly condemnable that people were barred from offering prayers in the shrine on Saturday. He said the people’s demands should be met forthwith.
MEHBOOBA CONDEMNS ATROCITIES ON WORSHIPPERS:
Expressing deep anxiety at the continued closure of Dargah Hazratbal for regular prayers, PDP president Mehbooba Mufti today called for immediate measures to end the deadlock. In a statement here she said for the fifth day running the holiest place of Kashmir had been closed for prayers which is unacceptable to any society much less the devotees and the faithful.
“That Namaz is being held outside the shrine premises because of the incompetence and mishandling of the government should be a reason for extreme worry for everyone,” she said.
Mehbooba said at a time when entire Kashmir is bleeding and up in arms the administration was simply unable to do anything good. The most peaceful place of worship which every citizen of the valley holds dearer than life, she said, has been pushed into a controversy by unimaginative, highhanded and callous handling of a government that seems to have lost even common sense besides being completely cut off from the ground.
On any day the controversy on such sensitive and highly revered places should be avoided but the fact that it has been engineered deliberately during Ramzan adds a sinister dimension to it, she said.
The dangerous mix of government’s incompetence with its exclusive dependence on force for all problems has now started affecting the most sensitive aspects of our society which held extremely dark portents for overall situation in Kashmir, she added.
Condemning the use of brute force on peaceful worshippers inside the shrine, Mehbooba said it had left understandable scars on every one. Instead of someone saying sorry for the unprovoked action and consequent desecration, the government has let the issue snowball into a stand off. There was never any reason for entering the shrine and beating up worshippers who obviously were not carrying any weapons or stones, she said and pointed out it had become a habit now with the government to suspect even the noblest actions of people and unfortunately even congregational prayers were sought to be prevented.
Mehbooba said while she hoped the government moves fast on Hazratbal standoff she was also worried about the general attitude of government forces towards the people. She said police and CRPF had been given a licence to beat up peaceful people irrespective of age or gender, barge into homes, destroy household goods and even enter places of worship with impunity. This lawlessness, she said could have long term impact on our society and could further radicalise the youth with obvious fallout.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 18 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 18 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 19 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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