COVID: Prayers remain suspended as mosques, shrines closed in Kashmir

Srinagar, May 14 (UNI) Prayers remained suspended as all the mosques, shrines and other religious places were closed since last month to curtail the unabated rise in the number of COVID-19 positive cases and deaths in Kashmir valley.

Meanwhile, prayers could not be held in shrines and mosques, including Asaar-e-Sharief Hazratbal and Jamia Masjid, on the occasion of Jumat-ul-Vida, the last Friday of holy month of Ramazan, and Eid-ul-Fitr that was celebrated on Thursday in the valley.

Friday Prayers were also not offered today as majority of the mosques, including historic Jamia Masjid, Hazratbal shrine, which houses the Holy Relic of Prophet Muhammad, and other shrine, remained closed in view of lockdown since April 29.
However, prayers were held in smaller mosques in the interior parts of the city under strict adherence to COVID guidelines, including maintaining social distancing, wearing masks and keeping the mosques properly ventilated. Similar reports were also received from other parts of central, south and north Kashmir.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration last week prolonged the ‘COVID curfew’, which was extended at least four times since April 29 in the Union Territory.
The extension in the lockdown in the UT had come in the backdrop of unabated rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in J&K, particularly the summer capital, Srinagar, which has recorded the major chunk of positive cases during the last over a month. Srinagar alone, out of 4356 new Covid-19 cases in J&K, reported 872 cases on Thursday followed by Jammu with 624 cases.
Of the 55 deaths recorded on Thursday in the UT, 20 were from Kashmir and 35 from Jammu, including three doctors. There are only two districts in Kashmir – Ganderbal and Shopian – were new positive cases featured in double digits on Thursday.

Eid-ul-Fitr celebration in Kashmir, where streets and markets used to remain abuzz with people — particularly children in colorful dresses — during this festival, was a low-key affair this year also with deserted streets and closed shops following COVID curfew.

The historic Jamia Masjid in the down town Srinagar remained closed for the third successive week. The Anjuman Auqaf Jamia Masjid, headed by chairman of moderate Hurriyat Conference (HC) Mirwaiz Moulvi Omar Farooq, had already announced suspension of all congregational prayers in the historic worship place on April 28 as a precautionary measure in view of further surge in the corona virus positive cases.
Mirwaiz is under house detention since August 5, 2019 when centre abrogated Article 370 and 35 A besides divided the Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories (UTs).
Security forces and police personnel were seen deployed at the main gate of the masjid, where no Friday prayer was held for the third successive week today. All the shops in Jamia market, which otherwise used to remain busy during this festive season, were closed due to COVID curfew.

The Assar-e-Sharief shrine, which houses the Holy Relic of Prophet Muhammad, at Hazratbal on the bank of Dal Lake was also closed. All the gates of the shrine were closed and police personnel remained deployed to prevent any assembly in the shrine, which is under the management of Wakf Board. The Board has announced closure of all 133 shrine and mosques under its management in the UT.

Shrine of Hazrat Sheikh Abdul Qadeer Jeelani at Khanyar and Sarai-Bala, Hazrat Mehboob-ul Alam, Hazrat Syed Sahib Sonawar, Hazrat Mir Syed Ali Hamdani and shrines and major worship places in Srinagar also remained closed in the valley, where no Friday prayers were held today.

Mosques on the main roads also remained closed due to restrictions and security force and police personnel remained deployed to prevent assembly of people in view of the coronavirus.

The shrine and Khankhan associated with Hazrat Sheikh Nooruddin Wali at Charar-e-Sharief in the central Kashmir also remained closed since April 29. ”No Friday prayers were offered at the shine for the third successive week while Eid-ul-Fitr prayers were also not allowed on Thursday,” a resident Ghulam Nabi Dar told UNI over phone.

He said reports of no prayers at the shrine of Pakherpora were also received.

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