Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, religious leader addressing first Friday congregation of of holy month of Ramazan at Jamia Masjid, Srinagar on March 15, 2024. Photo/Mirwaiz Manzil


SRINAGAR: Does the release of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a religious leader and chairman of the All Parties Hurriyat Conference (APHC) from house arrest on March 8 mark a significant shift in Jammu and Kashmir’s recent history?

Released ahead of Ramazan – a pious month for Kashmir’s Muslim majority, he was allowed to lead the congregational Friday prayers at the historic Jamia Masjid in Srinagar’s Nowhatta. This was a significant event as the mosque had been barred from holding Friday prayers since 2019.

His statements upon his release and during the first Ramazan prayers on March 15 reflect his continued commitment to dialogue and addressing the human rights issues to resolve the challenges facing the region. He also spoke about the hardships faced by the people concerning civic issues.

Video supplied by Mirwaiz Manzil

Background of House Arrest

Mirwaiz was put under house arrest on August 4, 2019, a day before the central government abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

He was released after over four years of house detention earlier on September 22, 2023.

In his first appearance since his release, the Mirwaiz had reiterated his stand on the Jammu and Kashmir issue and said that it can only be resolved through dialogue. He emphasized, “We have always invited our Pandit brothers to return to the valley. We have always disapproved of making it a political issue. It is a human issue”.

After his release in September 2023, Mirwaiz was only permitted to go to the Jamia Masjid for three FridaysHowever, fearing pro-Palestinian protests after the Friday prayers in October, he was locked up again.

On January 10, 2024, Mirwaiz was allowed by the authorities to travel to New DelhiThis was his first visit outside Kashmir since August 4, 2019. He returned a month later and was put under house arrest again.

This story was originally published in kashmirtimes.com. Read the full story here.