The fire that started early on Saturday morning destroyed at least five houseboats, turning them all to ashes
A large group of supporters thronged Srinagar’s Jama Masjid to greet the Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq as he came to offer prayers for the first time in four years after being released from house detention on Friday morning.
The supporters showered flower petals and raised slogans on the Mirwaiz as he entered the grand mosque in downtown Srinagar. The mosque was jam-packed when he delivered sermons and offered prayers.
Mirwaiz Manzil announced the news of his release on social media, stating, “After Four years (212 Fridays) of illegal & arbitrary incarceration, @MirwaizKashmir will today offer congregational Friday prayers & deliver a sermon at Jama Masjid Srinagar.”
The separatist leader has been under house arrest a day before the abrogation of Article 370 on 4 August 2019. Earlier, officials from the Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid – the management committee of the mosque – said he would be allowed to take part in the congregational prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid in the Nowhatta area.
“Senior police officials visited the residence of the Mirwaiz on Thursday to inform him that the authorities have decided to release him and allow him to go to Jama Masjid for Friday prayers,” the Auqaf said in a statement.
Authorities removed the police personnel who were stationed around Mirwaiz Farooq’s residence at Nigeen in Srinagar. This development came shortly after he filed a petition in the Jammu and Kashmir High Court seeking his release. Two prominent preachers were earlier released last week on the orders of the court.
Anjuman Auqaf Jama Masjid said in the morning; “We have been communicated by authorities that Mirwaiz Umar Farooq will be allowed today to offer Friday congregational prayers at historic Jama Masjid, so accordingly we have been told to be prepared,” they said.
Political parties have welcomed the release of Mirwaiz. Former chief minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah wrote on X, “I welcome the step taken by the administration in J&K to release Mirwaiz Umar Farooq from house arrest. I hope that they allow him to move freely, interact with people & resume his social/religious responsibilities. Today eyes in Kashmir will be on Mirwaiz as he delivers his first Friday sermon in Jamia Masjid after 2019.”
PDP leader Mehbooba Mufti wrote, “Finally Mirwaiz Umer Farooq will walk free man after years of LGs admin’s denial about his detention. As a religious head he is held in high regard by Muslims across J&K. Unfortunate that a tussle has already begun between BJPs various political outfits to claim credit for his release”.
Apni Party leader Altaf Bukhari thanked Home Minister Amit Shah and Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha for releasing Mirwaiz.
In an apparent snub to Mehbooba Mufti, Darakshan Andrabi, chairperson Wakf Board, said
“Religious scholars belong to all & no group or political party has a copyright for any religious personality. I hope, this time politico-theatrical statements will not shadow the happiness of the release of Mirwaiz. Wishing him great for future”, she added.