June 2018 News

Now, Jamia Masjid Volunteers To Keep Protesters Away

1 June 2018
The Tribune (Chandigarh)
Azhar Qadri

Srinagar: Jamia Masjid, the largest mosque in the Kashmir valley and a seat of political campaigning for decades, is now guarded by a group of 'volunteers' aiming to keep away protesters. The decision to deploy 'volunteers' was taken by the mosque's management committee, Anjuman Auqaf, to prevent protests in the vicinity of Jamia Masjid, located in the heart of Srinagar's old city. The volunteers frisked the worshippers to prevent them from bringing pro-militant banners and flags, which had become the new norm during recent protests. The mosque has been home to anti-state politics for the last one century and has served as the headquarters of several protest movements. It is for the first time that a volunteer group has been formed to keep the protesters away. Syed Rehman Shams, a close aide of separatist leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, said the volunteers would keep a watch on 'miscreants' and not allow unscheduled protests. The decision to deploy civilian volunteers was taken by the mosque committee following last week's violence when police fired pellets and teargas shells into the mosque. Following that, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq - who reads the Friday sermon at Jamia Masjid - had appealed to the police to avoid deploying its personnel around the mosque. The state police chief had later said the police would consider Mirwaiz's suggestion. Today, the deal between the mosque committee and the police was put to test as volunteers frisked the worshippers at the several gates of Jamia Masjid.