For the first time since abrogation of Article 370, the historic Jamia Masjid was thrown open for prayers on Wednesday. No namaz, including Friday prayers, were allowed since August 5.

Anjuman Auquaf Jamia Masjid had earlier asked the government to demilitarize Jamia Masjid area and remove all the forces from its surroundings so that people could to offer prayers without any fear.

“Anjuman Auquaf held meeting on Tuesday to take stock of the situation. It was decided that from Wednesday, prayers would be held at Jamia Masjid. Moreover,  security personnel were removed from the main gates of the mosque”, said Shamas Rehman, a close aide of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, chief cleric of Kashmir.

For the last four months, Kashmir has been simmering against the abrogation of Article 370 and division of State into two Union Territories. For the last 19 Fridays, no namaz could be held at Jamia, which is a record considering that 16 Friday prayers were not held in 2016.

“Cleansing of mosque was organized in which people participated. Later Zahur and Asr Namaz were held in the historic Masjid. A large number of devotees participated in the prayers”, said Shamas

Meanwhile, seemingly fearing more protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and police action against students of Jamia Milia Islamia, Jammu and Kashmir government has announced one-and-half month winter vacation for all government degree colleges of Kashmir division from December 21 to February 7 in a bid to cool tempers. A government order was issued late Tuesday evening to the extent. Meanwhile, colleges falling in Jammu division will have a ten-day vacation, starting on January 1.

This follows clashes between students of Islamia College of Science and Commerce and police after the former were stopped from leading a march against the violence unleashed on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia.

The announcement of the winter vacation has evoked sharp reaction from the National Conference which claimed that the government wants to peddle false narrative of normalcy in Kashmir.

“They want to sustain the narrative of normalcy. These (protests) would have exposed them. If it had spread or allowed to go on…They took a preemptive action to sustain the false image and narrative”, said Dr Mustafa Kamal, additional general secretary of National Conference.

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