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Friday prayers held at Indian-occupied Kashmir’s grand mosque after four months

Friday prayers were held in Kashmir’s historic main mosque for the first time since New Delhi revoked the restive region’s semi-autonomous status in August and imposed a security lockdown.

Some thousand worshippers gathered for afternoon prayers at the iconic mosque after security was removed from its main gates.

Locals say the recent closure was the longest the 13th-century mosque had endured since Kashmir was split between India and Pakistan in 1947 after independence from Britain.

Before the crackdown, Hurriyet leader Mirwaiz Umar Farooq delivered sermons and political messages at the sprawling mosque every Friday.

He is among thousands of people, including Hurriyet leaders opposed to Indian rule, taken into custody by authorities after New Delhi’s decision.

The Indian government shut down internet and phone lines, and flooded the Muslim-majority region with security forces to back its August 5 move.

Read More: Indian FM cancels US meeting over inclusion of pro-Kashmir congresswoman

Some of the restrictions have been eased in recent days but the area remains tense.

An armed rebellion against Indian rule has raged for decades in Kashmir, which has left tens of thousands dead, mainly civilians.

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