Stone Pelting: Sanctity of Kashmir’s grand mosque under threat

Bilal Bashir Bhat 
The uncertainty around Kashmir’s grand mosque on Fridays has become a routine over the last one decade particular, with clashes between youth and government forces on weekly basis putting the sanctity of mosque under threat.
The grand mosque situated in heart of the city downtown Srinagar has a rich history both on religious and political fronts as well. Every Friday hundreds of devotees from the length and breadth of Kashmir Valley as a practice of centuries-old tradition swarm Jamia Masjid to offer congregation prayers. However, as per the locals the presence of government forces around the mosque every week soon after the conclusion of prayers leads to confrontation thus endangering the sanctity of mosque. 
The locals and the caretakers of mosque though repeatedly are urging ruling dispensation not to deploy the forces, however, till date the appeals seem to have fallen to the deaf ears. In the month of May this year, to disperse the stone pelting youth the forces allegedly fired the teargas shells inside the mosque which landed on the wooden roof of the mosque, endangering the architectural marvel besides causing injuries to many devotees.
Most recently different scenes were witnessed, the locals alleged to combat with government forces the stone pelters destroyed the footpath of the outer premises of Jamia Masjid. Reportedly the pelters not only broke the chairs specifically meant for old and disabled men for prayers they also destroyed the footpath of the outer premises of Jamia Masjid.
Speaking to Kashmir News Bureau, a prominent elderly person pleading anonymity stated that the confrontation between forces and youth is damaging the sanctity of mosque which is totally unacceptable. He added that youth should also refrain from stone pelting outside the mosque. 
“The irony is that they are the same pelter gang who day in and day out project themselves as soldiers of Islam, adding, their actions are enough to describe them as “Anti-Islamic” agents who are not respecting the sanctity of the Mosque,” said a caretaker. (KNB)

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