Former chief minister and opposition Peoples Democratic Party patron Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Thursday called for 'lifting of the siege of Jamia Masjid' where the congregational Friday prayers have not been allowed by the authorities for the last eight weeks.
Ulemas in Kashmir have described the development as 'interference in religious affairs' and threatened to issue a 'Fatwa' if the authorities imposed curfew again on Friday in old city.
The historic Jamia Mosque in the old city is the main mosque where Friday prayers are offered in Srinagar with moderate All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman delivering his weekly sermons.
Calling upon the government 'to end the Friday siege of Jamia Masjid' Srinagar, Mufti has said 'banning Jumma prayers was an unprecedented assault on people's liberties'.
In a statement today Mufti condemned 'the continued denial of freedom' to offer Friday prayers at the main mosque in Srinagar saying this 'only compounded the crimes of the government which has blood of hundreds of innocents on its hands.'
He said 'the present government having lost all the credibility, had nothing more to lose and was using the state's power to deny the people their fundamental right to worship without caring for the sentiments involved. The artificial sense of normalcy created at the point of gun has only added to the choking sense of siege among the people which could find even more dangerous expressions than we have known.'
He said, 'Kashmir was a virtual prison where every body's life and dignity, freedom of speech and religion was seriously compromised through misuse of state power'.
"Instead of releasing the prisoners, more and more peopel are being arrested and slapped with PSA (Public Safety Act), which mocks even at the 8 point roadmap issued with fanfare," he pointed out.
The former chief minister said 'all the claims to initiate a dialogue for resolution would look farcical unless a conducive atmosphere was created and people spared cruelties of the present dispensation'.