Pro-freedom demonstrations erupted outside the valley’s largest mosque, Jamia Masjid, soon after the Friday congregation. This after Jammu and Kashmir administration didn’t release Mirwaiz Umar Farooq to lead the prayers for the 82nd week.
Reports said groups of youth, shouting pro-freedom slogans, and demanding the release of Kashmir’s chief cleric, Mirwaiz, tried to take out a march but were stopped by the government forces deployed in Nowhatta and adjoining areas in Srinagar’s Old City in huge numbers.
“Forces fired tear smoke shells and pellet guns to disperse the protesters,” a local shopkeeper told Voice of Kashmir.
Clashes between demonstrators and armed forces continued in the Jamia Masjid peripheries even as some journalists were also reportedly manhandled by the forces.
There were no reports of injuries.
Videos posted on social media showed an altercation between a group of journalists and government forces. Purportedly, two journalists, one of whom works for the BBC, were hit by a gun butt.
The protests erupted after reports claiming that Mirwaiz, the All Parties Hurriyat Conference Chairman, had been set free from house detention after nearly 20 months.
But on Friday morning the APHC said that the Jammu and Kashmir administration “has gone back on its decision” to release the pro-independence conglomerate’s chief from house detention.
Reports quoting unnamed government officials this week had said that Kashmir’s chief cleric was “free to go anywhere” after being kept in detention in his Nigeen residence since August 4, 2019.
The conglomerate, which had welcomed the recent border truce between the armies of India and Pakistan, said: “late Thursday night police officials visited the Mirwaiz’s residence to convey to him that he continues to be under house arrest.”
The Mirwaiz, who is Kashmir’s chief cleric, was reportedly to address the Friday congregation at the region’s largest mosque after 82 weeks.
Stating that this imperious decision has hurt the sentiments of people and further aggrieved them, as they were eagerly awaiting the Mirwaiz’s release from arbitrary house arrest, the APHC had said: “People though hugely disappointing should not lose hope and show patience and at no cost resort to any form of violent protest.”