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Home / India / J&K: People arrested for raising azaadi slogans at Jamia Masjid

J&K: People arrested for raising azaadi slogans at Jamia Masjid

Many more suspects are being examined and will be formally arrested as soon as their role clearly comes forth in this case: Police
Representational image.
Representational image.
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Muzaffar Raina   |   Srinagar   |   Published 10.04.22, 02:06 AM

Jammu and Kashmir police have arrested and are preparing to book under the stringent Public Safety Act worshippers who raised slogans of “azaadi” (freedom) at Kashmir’s main Jamia Masjid after Friday prayers, cracking down on the first stirrings of dissent in the Valley since the 2019 scrapping of the erstwhile state’s special status. 

Over a dozen people were arrested in overnight raids in the old city area of Srinagar. Jamia Masjid, ground zero of the azaadi movement in Kashmir, witnessed “pro-freedom” slogans for the first time in three years, causing embarrassment to the administration.

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The mosque has allowed major congregational prayers only on a few occasions since the 2019 decisions to prevent anti-government protests. It was reopened for Friday pra­yers recently after 30 months.

Police sources said dozens of raids were conducted overnight in Srinagar’s old city, where the mosque is located, to arrest the protesters.

A police spokesman said 13 people had been arrested for involvement in “sloganeering and hooliganism inside Jamia Masjid”.

The spokesman played down the incident, claiming that only around a dozen people participated in it while “most of the gathering remained aloof”.

“There was also (an) altercation between the persons indulging in sloganeering and the volunteers of the intezamia committee (organising committee) of Jamia Masjid who tried to stop such sloganeering and hooliganism,” the spokesman said.

“This created a… ruckus inside the mosque, leading to clashes between them. Later the hooligans were dispersed outside the mosque by volunteers. Even after coming outside from one gate, more than a dozen among them tried to provoke others by sloganeering, which failed, and in two-three minutes they dispersed in a hurry, seeing the police presence around.”

Videos of the event, however, showed a large crowd participating in the pro-azaadi protests and did not show any clash.

The police said they initially arrested two “main instigators”, Basharat Nabi Bhat and Umar Manzoor Sheikh, and subsequently picked up 11 other main accused.

“Many more suspects are being examined and will be formally arrested as soon as their role clearly comes forth in this case. PSA dossiers of all these accused are being prepared for booking them under the PSA as well,” the police said.

The police claimed there was a well-planned conspiracy hatched by Pakistani handlers of militant outfits to disrupt Friday prayers and create law-and-order problems. The police have, however, offered no evidence.

They have warned citizens of strict action for disrupting peace.

“Parents are also advised to keep a watch on the company of their children. Indulging in such activities may cause irreparable damage to career prospects,” the police warned.

The authorities have been showing zero tolerance of all forms of dissent and thousands have been arrested during the past three years to prevent an uprising against the dilution of Article 370.



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