Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Released After 4 Years of House Arrest.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Released After 4 Years of House Arrest.
Image Courtesy:  Reuters

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq Released After 4 Years of House Arrest

The Indian government has finally released Mirwaiz Umar Farooq after four years of house arrest. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq is a prominent Kashmiri Hurriyat leader and chief cleric. After snatching the autonomous-hood and imposition of a federal rule in 2019, the Indian government put Mirwaiz Umar Farooq under house arrest, a day before the Union government downgraded the erstwhile state into two union territories. The Indian government feared processions in the Indian Occupied Kashmir and as a result detained the prominent leaders, to curb statewide protests.

A Brief History of Mirwaiz Muhammad Umar Farooq

Mirwaiz Mohammad Umar Farooq was born on 23 March 1973. He is the son of Late Mirwaiz Maulvi Farooq, a prominent Kashmiri separatist political leader of Kashmir. He completed his postgraduate degree in Islamic studies called “Moulvi Fazil” and a Ph.D. on the topic “Politico-Islamic role of Shah-e-Hamdan”. Mirwaiz Mohammad Umar Farooq was listed as one of The 500 Most Influential Muslims by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, Jordan in October 2014.

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Long Wait for Freedom

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a 50-year-old leader, was among the political figures detained during the tumultuous events of 2019 in his Srinagar residence. While many detainees were subsequently released, Mirwaiz remained confined to his residence, a short distance from the historic Jamia Masjid mosque in Srinagar. Being a religious cleric, he had been deprived of leading the Jumma (Friday) prayers for 218 weeks, a situation that has deeply affected him. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, a week ago, filed a habeas corpus petition in the high court, assailing his illegal confinement. Notices were issued to the Jammu and Kashmir administration to respond and in response, the illegal detention of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was lifted by the administration.

Joyful Return to the Jamia Masjid Mosque

The day of Mirwaiz’s long-awaited release was nothing short of a heartwarming spectacle in the valley of Jammu and Kashmir. It was a moment of pure unity as thousands of devoted worshippers gathered in eager anticipation to witness Mirwaiz once more taking the lead in the sacred Friday prayers at the historic 14th-century Jamia Masjid. Amidst this outpouring of love and support, Mirwaiz found himself overwhelmed with gratitude. He expressed his heartfelt appreciation to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, who stood beside him in these long four testing years.
Plea for Peaceful Resolution:

While leading the sacred Friday prayers, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq addressed to the congregation and stressed the importance of peaceful dialogue to resolve conflicting issues. Mirwaiz Umar Farooq outrightly dismissed the constitutional changes imposed the Prime Minister Modi and called it simply “Unacceptable” and further sought dialogue to settle issues rather than unilateral actions. Moreover, he appealed to the Indian government to release all political prisoners and highlighted the need for reconciliation in the region.

A Constant Source of Disagreement

Kashmir, a land nestled in the Himalayas, has been a constant source of disagreement between India and Pakistan. Indian and Pakistan governments during the past decades have claimed deep attachment to the territory and regrettably have fought two wars over the region. The consequences of these two wars have been marked with violence leading to the loss of lives of tens of thousands of Kashmiri people and freedom fighters.

Security Measures Surrounding the Jamia Masjid Mosque

As soon as Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was released from house arrest, heavy security contingents were deputed around the Jamia Masjid, fearing the place to be overcrowded and might go out of hand due to deep sorrow over their cleric’s illegal detention. People in and around the mosque kept on stepping on their toes to have a glimpse of their beloved cleric and the return of Mirwaiz Umar Farooq was seen as a symbol of hope, despite many challenges faced by the Kashmiri people in the region.

Challenges in Kashmir Since Direct Rule

In the attempt to directly Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmiris have witnessed a series of actions by authorities aimed at restricting media freedoms and quelling public protests in the valley. A policy has been introduced by the Indian government wherein the government has allowed people from all over India to purchase land in the Kashmir valley, in an attempt to change the ethnicity of the region. This policy has been called “settler colonialism” by the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Kashmiri freedom fighters have increased their attacks in response to the colonial policies introduced by the Indian administration, resulting in casualties on both sides.

Mirwaiz Umar Farooq’s release after four years of living under house arrest is a significant turning point in the ongoing struggle for autonomy and peace in the heart of Kashmir. His heartfelt return to the beloved Jamia Masjid mosque stands as a powerful testament to the unwavering determination and resilience of the Kashmiri people. In the midst of the region’s complex challenges, which encompass changes in its political landscape and pressing security concerns.

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