Agence India Press
Srinagar: Complete chaos ruled the city where undeclared curfew enforced complete shutdown and hundreds of commuters were either stopped or forced to take alternative routes by the police and CRPF amid the winter chill. Early morning, CRPF and police wearing riot gear and equipped with sophisticated weapons were deployed in strength to enforce a strict curfew in a bid to debar people from joining Muharram processions.
The authorities in Kashmir today imposed strict restriction in parts of the capital, Srinagar, to maintain law and order as many mourners’ processions were scheduled to be taken out to commemorate the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammad’s (SAW) grandson, Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA) and his family in Karbala (Iraq).
Since morning the security was beefed up in the summer capital in the wake of the Shiite community planning to stage a Muharram Procession here, official sources told Agence India Press.
The bunker vehicles were parked at major junctions while concertina wires were laid to stop the movement of people on the roads and city entry points. Despite strict security arrangements in city and surrounding areas, the mourners brought out processions at various localities.
Heavy contingents of Indian paramilitary personnel were deployed at Lal Chowk, Jehangir Chowk, Maisuma, Kothibagh, Kralkhud, M.R. Gunj, Haba Kadal, Safa Kadal, Nowhatta, Ram Munshi Bagh, Dalgate and Khanyar areas blocking all exit and entry points. Traffic was not allowed in the city centre and people were forced to stay indoors.
The Muharram procession of the 10th day of the first month of the Islamic calendar would traditionally start from Guru Bazar and Shaheed Gunj areas of the Srinagar downtown and pass through Maulana Azad and Residency Roads, Dalgate to end at Alamgari Bazar, Zadibal.
However, for the past couple of decades, authorities have disallowed huge Muharram processions in uptown areas while smaller congregations in Shiite localities of downtown Srinagar and in the outskirts are allowed.
The Jammu &Kashmir administration has banned Muharram Procession in uptown since 1990’s. Most such processions turned into pro-freedom protests in early 1990’s forcing the state government to ban such congregations.
No movement was being allowed in the city centre and its adjoining areas as entry points to the Lal Chowk were sealed from all sides. Police and paramilitaries had erected barricades and coils of concertina wire at some intersections to block pedestrian and vehicular movement. To enforce the ban, five police stations, Maisuma, Kralkhud, Kothibagh, Shaheed Gunj and Ram Munshi Bagh were brought under curfew to thwart any attempt to carry out procession.
Shops, vehicular traffic, businesses and pedestrian movement remained suspended in city centre Lal Chowk, adjacent Maisuma locality and Residency Road areas today.
Shops and other business establishments were also closed in old city areas and vehicular movement was almost off the roads.
Concertina wires and huge number of security personnel were being deployed at all entry points leading to Lal Chowk as Shiite mourners planned to stage the procession from Abi Guzar area, witnesses told Agence India Press.
Police and CRPF personnel were also deployed along the banks of river Jhelum to prevent people from reaching Lal Chowk using boats, official sources said.
A senior police officer said restrictions have been imposed in few areas falling under police stations of Maisuma, Kothibagh, Kralkhud, Rammunshi Bagh, and Shaheed Gunj in order to prevent some anti-social elements from creating trouble in the city. He also said that the restrictions had to be imposed in the areas as a precautionary measure “to maintain law and order”.
Muslims, especially Shia Muslims throughout the world take out mourning processions and hold majlis (gatherings) during the first ten days of the Muslim month of Muharram, which is known as ‘Ashura’. The mourning reaches a climax with major processions on the 10th day.
The Chairman of Hurriyat (M), Mirwaiz, Umer Farooq addressing a gathering at Narwara in Srinagar reaffirmed the Kashmiris’ resolve to continue their liberation struggle till it reached its logical conclusion. Umer Farooq urged India to withdraw its troops, release detained leaders and activists and stop human rights violations in the region. He appealed to the people to be cautious of the political gimmickry of the pro-India parties.
Senior Hurriyat (M) leaders, Agha Syed Hassan Al-Moosvi and Maulana Abbas Ansari addressing Muharram congregations took strong exception to the ban by the authorities on Ashura processions in Srinagar. They said that the international community should take it as a challenge that religious freedom alongside with other freedoms is being brazenly trampled over by the Indian authorities in Kashmir.
Other Hurriyat leaders, Nayeem Ahmed Khan and Javed Ahmed Mir in their statements also condemned the police action against the mourners terming it a “brutal act”.
Meanwhile, Chairman Hurriyat Conference (G), Syed Ali Shah Geelani has strongly denounced the use of force against mourners by police and troops in Srinagar.
Geelani in his statement in Srinagar deplored that India had imposed ban on Muharram processions without any justification for the past over two decades. He appealed to the international community to impress upon India to stop human rights violations in the occupied territory and give the Kashmiris their inalienable right to self-determination.
Other religious and political leaders and heads condemned the restrictions during Ashura and termed the steps taken by the authorities as intervention into religious duties. They also condemned the detention of more than 200 people including Hurriyat leaders, Masroor Abass and Nisar Hussain Rather. (AIP News)
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