The Jamia Masjid in Srinagar is centuries old.
A group of masked young men barged into the historical Jamia Masjid in Srinagar with ISIS flags and created a ruckus on Friday, provoking condemnation from the mosque's management committee as well as separatists.
The incident occurred after the congregational prayers, when the mosque was nearly empty. The men were chased away by the devotees present. A video of the incident went viral on the social media the next day.
The officials said moderate Hurriyat Conference chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, who delivered the Friday sermon at the mosque, was not around when the incident occurred. "A group of masked men barged into the mosque and rushed to the pulpit where the Mirwaiz delivers the sermon. One of them stood atop the pulpit with his shoes on, shouting slogans," said an official.
The managing committee of the mosque — the Anjuman Auqaf Jama Masjid — has condemned the incident. "The fact that one of the men shot a video of the incident clearly indicates that the entire episode was well-planned. It has naturally led to shock, outrage and a deep resentment among the people. It has deeply hurt their sentiments associated with the mosque," the committee said in a statement.
"This act shows the utter disregard of this group of miscreants for Islamic institutions, values and teachings. Such elements not only malign the name of Islam but also abuse it," it added.
The committee warned that it will not tolerate anybody violating the sanctity of the mosque and the pulpit at any cost. "The Jamia Masjid is the spiritual, religious and political centre of the people of Kashmir. Our collective cultural heritage and any attempt to harm it will be firmly dealt with," it said.
The separatists, who operate under the banner of the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), also condemned the incident. "Some masked elements violated Islamic teachings, values and the sanctity of the mosque. They even attempted to desecrate the pulpit of the mosque. Such anti-Islamic acts will not be tolerated at any cost," the JRL — comprising Mirwaiz Syed Ali Geelani and Mohammad Yasin Malik — said.
The separatists said this was an instance of some "elements diverting their just movement by changing its basic nature and character under the pretence of perusing some global agenda".
(With inputs from PTI)