To protest the frequent imposition of restrictions in Downtown areas by the authorities and disallowing congregational Friday prayers at historic Jamia Masjid, scores of traders held a sit-in at Nowhatta on Thursday.
The protest was led by Jamia Market Traders Federation in which senior citizens, religious scholars and various bazaar committees also took part. The protesting traders also lamented continuous house detention of All Parties Hurriyat Conference (M) chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq. Javed Ahmad Zargar, president, Jamia Market Traders Federation told Greater Kashmir that the traders will intensify stir if authorities continue to impose such restrictions.
"Even Jumait-ul-vida prayers were disallowed this year which hurt sentiments of lakhs of people. We welcome support of traders from civil line areas to join us in protest against these curbs," Zargar said.
A statement issued by the federation said the protest was held against "converting Downtown into a military fortress" on every Friday to disallow congregational Friday prayers and barring Mirwaiz Umar Farooq from addressing the Friday sermon at the historic Jamia Masjid,"
"Curfew and restrictions are arbitrarily and frequently imposed by the government at will. Caging the entire population of Downtown has seriously cast a shadow on the economy and trade of the area which is considered the oldest business hub of Kashmir," the statement said.
"Such deliberate assaults on our religious institutions and cultural and economic centers are unacceptable and won't be tolerated," the statement said.
"If it does not withdraw these repressive measures, protests will be intensified and the entire blame of consequences will lie on the government. We also warn them that if iron-fist policy continues on part of the government, the traders bodies across Kashmir will join hands and start Kashmir-wide protest campaign," the statement said.
Muhammad Yaseen Khan, president, Kashmir Traders and Manufactures Federation who also participated in the sit-in said, "we are asking state government to allow prayers at Jamia Masjid on Friday or we will be forced to take to streets. The rulers must realise that sentiments of people are associated with this revered place," Khan said.
Co-chairman Kashmir Economic Alliance, Farooq Ahmad Dar who also took part in the sit-in said his faction has extended complete support to Downtown traders.