JEHANGIR ALI | 4 JANUARY, 2019
In a First, New Delhi Allows Mirwaiz and Malik to Lead Rally in Srinagar
Weather washes out the march
SRINAGAR: In a first, moderate Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Yasin Malik were today allowed by authorities to lead a rally against the ‘desecration’ of Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid by masked men who last week waved ISIS flags from the pulpit of the mosque, but weather played spoilsport.
Mirwaiz and Malik, who was briefly detained and later released last evening by police, representatives of Syed Ali Geelani’s Hurriyat, other separatist activists, civil society members, leaders of trade bodies and hundreds of ordinary people were expected to participate in the march in downtown Srinagar.
However, a fresh spell of rain and snow across Kashmir Valley today afternoon, with Srinagar city receiving its snowfall of the new year, dashed the plans of the demonstration against what the separatists have termed as “hidden elements who want to tarnish the struggle of Kashmiris”.
“This is a brazen attempt to sow the seeds of hatred among the Muslim fraternity in Kashmir. The people of Kashmir don’t have any global agenda. Our indigenous struggle is for the right to self-determination,” Mirwaiz said while delivering his Friday sermon today at the historic mosque.
Mirwaiz had yesterday led a rally from his office in downtown Srinagar to the mosque and was seen cleaning the pulpit, from which he delivers Friday sermons and on which the masked youth had climbed with their shoes on, a sacrilegious act under various tenets of Islam.
“We can’t sit silent and watch these miscreants destroy our society. There is a need to expose those who want to defame Kashmir. Friday’s program was meant to send a strong message but unfortunately weather played spoilsport,” said chairman of Kashmir Economic Alliance, Yasin Khan, who had lent support to the separatists’ program, said .
Last Friday, a group of masked men, while shouting pro-Islam and pro-Daesh slogans, had managed to escape from the mosque after committing the sacrilegious act. The mosque was empty at the time of the incident.
The incident had sparked outrage in Kashmir where mainstream parties, separatists, socio-political groups and civil society activists demanded punishment for those involved in the “desecration” of the mosque.
After the incident, Geelani, Mirwaiz and Malik had huddled at the residence of the former to garner support against the incident. “Mosque is important from both the religious and political point of view. We discussed it and felt it was definitely a well thought attempt to divert our movement towards something which is totally alien and is globally condemned,” Mirwaiz said.
This is for the first time in recent memory that the authorities had allowed any political activity by separatist groups who often remain detained at their homes or jailed to prevent them from leading any protests.
The rally was planned a day after the union home minister Rajnath Singh told the parliament that the Centre was willing to hold “unconditional dialogue” with all stakeholders, including the Hurriyat, to end the crisis in Kashmir.