In Kashmir, a quiet crackdown – on mosques and clerics

At army camps, clerics are counselled against speaking about Article 370. Those delivering critical sermons are threatened with arrest.

“For the first time in more than 600 years, Eid and Friday prayers were not allowed here,” said Peer Haji Bilal Ahad Hamdani. He is deputy imam at the Khanqah-e-Moula, a 14th-century shrine located on the banks of the Jhelum river in Srinagar’s old town. “Through all the uprisings, we never stopped praying here. In the 1990s, when guns were blazing on all sides, my father used to wake up before dawn every day and recite religious verses here. Even then we didn’t stop praying here.”

But since August 5, when the Centre scrapped special status for Jammu and Kashmir and divided the state into two Union Territories, local authorities have not allowed Eid or the congregational Friday prayers at the shrine.


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