Indian policemen detain a Kashmiri Shiite Muslim for participating in a religious procession in Srinagar

Police on Tuesday indiscriminately fired tear gas shells and mounted a lathi charge to disperse the citizens participating, and journalists covering the Muharram procession in city centre Lal Chowk and Dalgate on the eighth day of the holy month of Muharram.

Police detained scores of mourners while quelling the processions at many parts of Kashmir valley where Shias traditionally take out Muharram processions.

“We were taking out a procession peacefully, but police stopped us, detained us, and lathicharged us,” said one mourner, Amir Hussain, at Lal Chowk. 

Mourners marching in procession were chanting religious and pro-freedom slogans on the streets of Srinagar when the police intervened. 

The processions were being taken out despite restrictions imposed in Srinagar city against gatherings. 

Police and paramilitary forces were deployed at every sensitive place where there was apprehension of street protests or processions taking place. The authorities had erected steel barricades and barbed wires at many places to block crowds.

Amir Hussain added that when the police and mourners confronted each other, the latter started to ask for a copy of the ban order on Muharram processions. The mourners cited an order of the government in which it was said that there was no ban on the procession.

Like last year, Muharram processions in Kashmir turned violent after police and government forces fired tear smoke and mounted lathi charge, injuring dozens.

At Dalgate, police had to resort to tear gas shelling to disperse the mourners, causing minor injuries to some of them.

Since an armed insurgency broke out in Kashmir in 1989, the official ban on Muharram procession has remained in place. 

Kashmiri Shia Muslims have often described the ban as a curb on their religious freedom on the pretext of maintaining law and order.


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