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ISIS flags at Jamia Masjid in Srinagar spark tension

A few masked youths desecrated the Jamia Masjid soon after Mirwaiz Umar Farooq delivered sermons during the Friday prayers

SP Sharma | Jammu |

Desecration of the Srinagar’s Jamia Masjid by a group of masked radicals who waved ISIS flags on the pulpit has generated widespread criticism while most of the Kashmir-centric political parties were so far tight-lipped on the serious issue.

A few masked youths on Saturday desecrated the Jamia Masjid soon after Mirwaiz Umar Farooq delivered sermons during the Friday prayers. As usual his sermons were targeted against India and the security forces.

Although waving black flags of terrorist outfit ISIS outside the Jamia Masjid and raising slogans in favour of local leader of Al-Qaeda, Zakir Musa, has become a regular affair, this was for the first time that terror supporters entered the mosque and waved ISIS flags and also raised anti-India slogans by standing on the pulpit. They desecrated the pulpit by standing on it wearing shoes.

While common Muslims have condemned the incident, separatists instead of taking to task the miscreants were trying to give it another twist by claiming it as a “well planned design” to damage the religious centre and also change the course of the ongoing movement.

A deputy superintendent of police, Ayub Pandith, who was on security duty of the Mirwaiz, was brutally lynched by radicals outside the Jamia Masjid last year.

Junaid Qureshi, a Kashmiri political analyst and director of the European Foundation for South Asian Studies, was critical of those who were inciting the youth.

In his tweet targeted against the Mirwaiz, Qureshi said: “When custodians of the mosque keep paying tributes to terrorists, this will become. One day, the violent ones will take ownership of the pulpit which you used to justify their chosen path. Sadly, this seems an inevitable reality”.

Over the years, the downtown area of Jamia Masjid has seen emergence of pro-IS and pro-Zakir Musa youth grabbing the political narrative. Musa is the head of Ansar Ghazwat ul Hind, an Al-Qaeda linked outfit, which faced a serious blow on 22 December when its six activists were killed in an encounter with security forces.

While quitting Hizbul Mujahideen and floating the Al-Qaeda linked outfit, Musa had last year threatened to slit throats of separatists and hang them at the Lal Chowk. His supporters were accused of trying to take over control of the Jamia Masjid which is situated in the middle of the old city.

It was built by Sultan Sikandar Shah Kashmiri Shahmiri in 1394 CE under the order of Mir Mohmmad Hamadani. Sultan Sikhandar’s son Zain-ul-Abidin extended the Jama Masjid by including turret.

A video that has gone viral on social media shows youth who are about ten in number raising slogans in favour of the Islamic state. They are also waving black flags of the IS.

One of the youths stood on the pulpit of the mosque and raised pro-IS slogans. It is the same pulpit from where Mirwaiz delivers his Friday sermons.