Faced with their failure to provide electric power as per the announced schedule, authorities in Kashmir started tightening noose around "erring consumers" on Saturday.
In a significant development in Kashmir, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a prominent pro-freedom cleric, led Friday prayers after a hiatus of four years. The Indian authorities released Farooq, a key separatist leader, and granted him the opportunity to conduct prayers at Srinagar’s historic mosque. Here’s a brief look at his background and the circumstances leading to this event.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq became the first chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference in September 1993. This alliance comprises various Kashmiri political and social organizations that advocate for a referendum in the region. Notably, Farooq’s election as the first chairman occurred despite Syed Ali Shah Geelani being the initial choice, primarily because the Hurriyat Conference was predominantly composed of secular organizations.
Since August 4, 2019, Mirwaiz was under house arrest, a day before the Indian government reorganized the former state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories. He remained under house arrest for over four years, until his release on September 22, 2023. A week before his release, the high court issued a notice, prompting the Jammu and Kashmir administration to respond to a Habeas Corpus petition challenging the “illegal confinement” of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
During his extended house arrest, which spanned 212 consecutive Fridays since August 4, 2019, Mirwaiz had no permission to deliver sermons and attend Friday prayers.
More about Mirwaiz Umar Farooq:
Before entering the realm of Kashmiri politics, Farooq received his education at Burn Hall School in Srinagar. Although he initially aspired to become a software engineer with a keen interest in computer science, he later earned a postgraduate degree in Islamic Studies known as ‘Moulvi Fazil’ and completed a Ph.D. at Kashmir University.
His doctoral thesis focused on the “Politico-Islamic role of Shah-e-Hamdan,” a 14th-century Islamic scholar credited with introducing Islam to the Valley.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq has been in a marital relationship with Sheeba Masoodi, a Kashmiri-American, since 2002. The couple has two daughters, Maryam and Zainab, as well as a son named Ibrahim.