Mirwiaz delivers Friday sermon at Jama Masjid after 4 years
Joins congregational prayers; says J&K issue needs to be resolved through dialogue
Srinagar: After four years, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq delivered Friday sermon at Srinagar’s Jama Masjid and offered congregational prayers there.
A senior police official, sources said visited the Nigeen residence of Mirwaiz a day earlier, informing him that he has been released and will also be allowed to go to Jama Masjid to discharge his religious duty as a chief cleric of Kashmir on Friday.
Mirwaiz, witnesses said, headed for Jama Masjid around 1 p.m. amidst tight security and arrived at the grand mosque to a thunderous welcome from hundreds of his supporters. Mirwaiz was greeted by his supporters who had lined up in front of Jama Masjid in the Nowhatta area of the old city.
The cleric responded by waving his hands to his supporters upon his arrival at the grand mosque. Congregants were overtaken with emotions, and so was Mirwaiz himself as he too broke in tears on the Masjid pulpit.
Meanwhile, during his first public appearance following his release from four-years long house-arrest, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq reiterated that the issue of Jammu and Kashmir has to be resolved through dialogue and peaceful means.
Mirwaiz also said the people of Kashmir believe in peaceful coexistence between communities and nations, and have always advocated for the return of Kashmiri Pandits.
“We have always invited our Pandit brothers to return to the valley. We have always disapproved of making it a political issue. It is a human issue,” he said.
“Our stand is that a part of J&K is in India, another in Pakistan and the third in China. All these make Jammu and Kashmir as it existed in August 1947. The people have been divided and it is a reality that the issue needs to be resolved which the international community also endorses,” the Mirwaiz said during the Friday congregational sermon at the historic Jama Masjid here.
Many families have been separated because of the dividing line between India and Pakistan, and they are craving to see and meet each other to celebrate their joys and share their pains, the Mirwaiz said.
“This can be a geographical issue for some, but it is foremost a human issue for the people of J&K. We have to rise above the considerations of geography or area and understand the human values and relationships and then move forward towards the resolution of the issues,” he added.
Mirwaiz while referring to the recent statement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Ukraine that “this is not an era of war”, said the sentiment holds true.
“We have always believed and participated in efforts of resolution through an alternative to violent means which is dialogue and reconciliation. We have personally suffered for pursuing this route.
“We have no personal ambition but to represent the interests and aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir who are our basic concern and people want settlement and peace. We want the issue to be resolved in a peaceful manner so that people are rid of further difficulties,” he said, adding, a new phase of peace and prosperity can start after resolving the issues.
Referring to the abrogation of Article 370, Mirwaiz said the phase after that has not been easy for the people of Kashmir.
“There have been assaults on our identity. The abrogation of Article 370 and 35A, the downgrading of J&K into a Union territory from a state, the dismemberment of Ladakh from it and post that new laws and diktats being imposed incessantly through the Reorganisation Act, unfortunately are harsh unilateral decisions of disempowerment,” he said.
Mirwaiz said not only could he not fulfill his religious responsibilities, “but my human rights were denied forcibly”.
“I was forced to move the courts and was informed yesterday by senior officers that I will be released. How difficult this period has been, no one can understand that. It has been the most difficult phase of my life after my father’s death,” he said.
However, he added, “I do not think my morale is down. My morale is high.”
Calling for the release of youths and activists from jails, Mirwaiz said stern approach to deal with issues is a dangerous thing.
“It leads to human rights violations. Dozens of our leaders, men and women, are languishing in jails for years, thousands of young men and boys, journalists, human rights activists and lawyers are suffering incarceration. They need to be released as soon as possible. Their health and families are suffering,” he said.
He appealed to the youth to keep calm, courage, and have patience.
“This is the time to keep patience. We should keep patience and have faith in God. The Quran teaches us that there is ease after every difficulty… InshaAllah, the situation will improve in our favour surely,” he added. (With additional inputs from PTI)