SRINAGAR: A day after Jammu and Kashmir was formally split up into two Union Territories, the police on Friday used force to disperse a religious gathering at a Sufi shrine in Srinagar. The cops also thrashed reporters and photographers covering the incident.
As devotees — both men and women — began converging at and around the shrine in city’s Khawaja Bazaar area to offer Khoji Diggar (special late afternoon prayers), the police swung into action and used bamboo sticks and fired teargas canisters to disperse them. The shrine is dedicated to Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari (1318-1389), the Bukhara (Uzbekistan)-born founder of what would become one of the largest and most influential Sufi Muslim orders, the Naqshband.
Traditionally, large number of women devotees also join Khoji Diggar, the main ritual of the annual Urs at the shrine premises.
The policemen also prevented mediapersons from covering the incident. At least, one photographer was injured in the police action, the witnesses said. The police action evoked anger among the residents. A woman devotee Hafiza said, “This is unfortunate that the policemen didn’t allow us to offer namaz. Yes, it was done by J&K police, our own J&K policemen.”
The authorities had earlier re-imposed restrictions under Section 144 CrPc is few police station areas of central Srinagar “as a precautionary measure to prevent breach of peace.” The police did not allow Friday congregation also in nearby Grand Mosque on the 13th consecutive Friday.
Meanwhile, a private car owned by local BJP leader Abid Hussain Khan was torched by unknown persons in Kulgam district on Friday....