Geelani-Mirwaiz face-off over Eid prayers averted

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Srinagar, Oct 11 (UNI) A major showdown between breakaway Hurriyat Conference chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani and moderate amalgam head Mirwaiz Umar Farooq over the Eid-ul-Fitr prayers at Eidgah here was averted after the firebrand separatist leader today decided to withdraw his programme, apprehending violent clashes on the day.

Addressing a crowded news conference here, Mr Geelani said his faction had on September 26 decided to offer Eid prayers at Eidgah grounds here after nearly 20 years.

''Our intention was to save the Eidgah from being vandalised or occupied by the security forces as no prayers had been offered there for the past 20 years. The sanctity of the place need to be upheld under any circumstance and at any cost,'' he added.

The Hurriyat hardliner said they wanted to restore the sanctity of the Eidgah as the place was meant for offering Eid prayers and is equivalent to a mosque.

''With this in mind, we had announced on September 26 to offer Eid prayers at Eidgah grounds here. Unfortunately on October 8 and at the behest of Indian intelligence agencies, the Awami Action Committee (also headed by the Mirwaiz) leadership decided to offer prayers at Eidgah and came out with its own programme,'' he said.

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