Srinagar, Jul 31: Prayers continued to remain suspended as all the shrines, Jamia Masjid and main mosques remained closed since March this year in view of COVID-19 pandemic in Kashmir valley, where markets during the last couple of days were abuzz with customers following relaxation in lockdown in view of Eid-ul-Azha.
However, good number of people offered Friday congregational prayers in small and interior mosques in violation of the order prohibiting prayers in religious places in the valley, where authorities have decided not to allow congregational Eid-ul-Azha prayers on Saturday in view of COVID-19 pandemic.
Administration, doctors and experts have reiterated the need to strictly follow guidelines, including wearing masks, maintaining social distancing and avoiding social and religious gathering to curtail the spread of COVID-19 cases in the valley. Of the 373 deaths reported so far in J&K since March, 338 people have lost their lives due to COVID-19 in 57 days, and 358 people in 71 day in J&K, where 450 new positive cases were detected on Thursday, taking the total number of infected persons to 19,869.
Majority of the people in the valley, adhering to the guidelines, offered mid-day (instead of Friday) prayers at their respective residences.
All gates to historic Jamia masjid, stronghold of Hurriyat Conference (HC) chairman Mirwaiz Moulvi Omar Farooq, remained closed for devotees since March this year, when government ordered closure of all religious places in view of COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Jamia market was open though less number of customers were visiting the shops and business establishments to make purchases as compared to previous years.
Gates of other major mosques and shrines, including Asaar-e-Sharief Hazratbal, which houses the Holy Relic of Prophet Muhammad, also remained closed. Prayers in major mosques and shrines remained suspended for the 20th consecutive week on Friday due to restrictions on religious gatherings to prevent spread of COVID-19 in the valley.
However, people offered Friday prayers in small and interior mosques in the valley though authorities are yet to lift ban on congregational prayers.
Authorities and religious organizations announced closure all mosques and shrines in J&K in view of the outbreak of COVID-19 in March this year. The Mutahida Majlis-e-Ulema (MMEU), an organization of different religious bodies, headed by incarcerated Mirwaiz Moulvi Omar Farooq, had appealed to people not to hold any congregational prayers in the wake of pandemic.
No congregational Shab-e-Qadar prayers were offered in any mosque in the valley. No prayers were offered on Jamat-ul-Vida, the last Friday of the holy fasting month Ramzan, in the valley, where Eid-ul-Fitr prayers were offered by people in their respective houses.