Kashmiri Muslims listen to a cleric before offering prayers inside a mosque on Eid al-Adha in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Wednesday, July 21, 2021. Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of the Sacrifice, is marked by sacrificing animals to commemorate the prophet Ibrahim's faith in being willing to sacrifice his son. (AP Photo/Mukhtar Khan)

Pakistan on Wednesday strongly condemned the reported restrictions imposed by Indian authorities on Eidul Azha prayers and sacrifice of animals in Indian-occupied Kashmir, saying they showed “complete disrespect and deep-rooted prejudice” against Muslims.

The Foreign Office’s statement came amid reports that residents could not offer Eid prayers due to the continued military siege and restrictions imposed by authorities at major mosques in the region.

“Imposition of restrictions on prayers and religious festivities on one of the most important days of Islamic calendar represents complete disrespect and deep-rooted prejudice by the Indian government for the sentiments of the Muslims of [occupied Kashmir],” the FO said, adding that it was also a flagrant violation of their right to freedom of religion.

The statement urged the international community, United Nations, and other human rights organisations to take notice of the “brutal suppression of the religious rights and freedoms of the Kashmiri people in violation of international laws and conventions”.

It stressed that India could not “break the will of the Kashmiris and suppress their aspirations for freedom from illegal Indian occupation” through such measures.

“Pakistan reiterates its support of Kashmiri people for their inalienable right to self-determination as enshrined in the relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” the FO concluded.

According to the Kashmir Media Service (KMS), officials barred Muslims from offering prayers in the historic Jamia Masjid, Dargah Hazratbal, Eidgahs and other big mosques by erecting barricades.

Major mosques and shrines including Kashmir’s largest mosque, Jamia Masjid Srinagar, were closed, while Eid prayers were allowed only in a few small mosques located in peripheral areas of the Kashmir valley.

The faithful were also unable to sacrifice bovines freely in the territory.

The region’s political leadership including Syed Ali Gilani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, Muhammad Yasin Malik, Shabbir Ahmad Shah, Dr Hameed Fayaz, Masarrat Aalam Butt, Aasiya Andrabi, Nayeem Ahmad Khan and numerous other leaders and activists are in house detention or in jails.

Last week, the Indian government had ordered authorities in occupied Kashmir to ban the slaughter of all animals in the Muslim-majority region for Eidul Azha.

A government communication addressed to civil and police authorities in the region on Thursday asked them to stop “illegal killing/sacrifices of cows/calves, camels & other animals”, citing animal welfare laws.

A day later, however, authorities said there was no ban on the sacrifice of animals, with a senior government official saying the earlier communication was “misconstrued”, and the government had been seeking proper transportation of animals and the prevention of cruelty during the festival.

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