Protest in Hazratbal against early Friday prayers for VIPs

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Srinagar, Mar 21 (UNI) A large number of devotees today protested against holding early Friday prayers for VIPs at holy shrine of Hazratbal, which houses a holy relic of the Prophet Muhammad.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad and National Conference (NC) patron Dr Farooq Abdullah were among thousand of people who joined the Friday prayers. The devotees had glimpse of holy relic of the Prophet Muhammad after the prayers.

However, devotees in general complained inadequate transport facilities following strike by the employees, including drivers, of the State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) for the past one month.

A UNI correspondent saw a large number of devotees, raising slogans against the management of the shrine and civil administration for holding Friday prayers at 1400 hrs against scheduled 1430 hrs.

''We could not offer prayers because we reached after 1400 hrs due to non-avaibility of transport,''the devotees said, adding the government had failed to make proper transport arrangements.

They said the management of the shrine held the prayers half a hour early for the VIPs which was not acceptable. In Islam, everyone is equal, they said, adding no announcement was made for such a change in prayer time.

Despite holding a number of high level meeting weeks before the Eid for making arrangements for the devotees, nothing was seen on the ground, they alleged.

This correspondent saw devotees, including women and children, reaching the shrine on foot from different areas while others had climbed on roof of overcrowded vehicles.

This is for the first time the devotees had to suffer, they said and also criticised the SRTC employees for not plying the vehicles during urs days.

The devotees demanded resignation from the transport minister and action against divisional administration for failing to make alternative arrangement for them(devotees).

Meanwhile, people also complained shortage of meat as majority of the butcher shops remained closed in the summer capital for the past four days.

However, some butchers were selling chicken in the city.

It was not however clear why there was shortage of meat in the market.

UNI BAS VD GC1611

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