No procession allowed in old Srinagar, group that came to Lal Chowk cane-charged away
SRINAGAR: The tenth day of Moharram saw curfew-like restrictions imposed in most parts of Srinagar on Sunday, to thwart any attempt by Shia Muslims to take out the annual Ashura procession. In some Shia-dominated areas, particularly in Zadibal, Ashura processions were taken out, but many people faced difficulty in reaching these areas due to restrictions and concertina wires laid on roads to block traffic movement.
Thousands participated in the Ashura procession that was taken out in Zadibal. To mourn the martyrs of Karbala, people from various areas of the city began arriving in Zadibal from early morning. The government authorities have been allowing Shias to take out processions there for several years.
The mourners managed to reach Zadibal in their individual capacity or in small groups despite the strict restrictions. Government authorities on Saturday had issued an order to impose restrictions in areas under the jurisdiction of 13 police stations. The areas included Karan Nagar, Shaheed Gunj, Batamaloo, Shergari, Maisuma, Kothibagh, Kralkhud, Ram Munshi Bagh, Rainawari, Nowhatta, Khanyar, MR Gunj and Safakadal.
All shops and business establishments were closed in these areas throughout the day, while traffic movement was also paralysed in the old city. The impact of the restrictions was also witnessed in the uptown civil lines areas.
Heavy deployment of government forces was seen in the restriction-bound areas. Concertina wires and police vehicles were placed at several routes that lead towards Zadibal. Residents of the old city said that police and paramilitary troops arrived at dawn and asked people to not come out on the roads.
Several Shia Muslims complained that they had to face difficulties in trying to reach Zadibal. They said they had to take alternative routes as police did not allow them travel on the main roads.
“I managed to reach Zadibal after going through narrow lanes at various places. The troops allowed us to go through narrow lanes in ones and twos,” a mourner who participated in the Zadibal procession told Kashmir Reader.
Mourners were seen carrying black banners and shouting slogans in praise of Imam Hussain (RA) and his companions who were martyred in Karbala, some 1,400 years ago. Every year on the 10th of Moharram, Shia Muslims mark the day of Youm-e-Ashura to remember the sacrifice of Imam Hussain (RA).
The mourners in Zadibal reportedly were asked not to go beyond the traditional route. Men, women and children clad in black clothes were out on the roads, while some women looked out from windows of their houses and beat their breasts when the procession passed. In the interiors of Zadibal, men struck their head and chest with iron blades, causing blood to flow out of their wounds and fall upon the road.
Several volunteers and self-help groups had pitched tents to feed the mourners along the path of the procession, and to ensure that roads were not blocked. Several ambulances were also kept ready in case of emergency, and there were free medical check-up and blood donations camps along the way. Many young boys and girls donated their blood in these camps.
“Every year on this day I donate blood to pay respect to the martyrs of Karbala,” a woman, Heena Khan, said. “Imam Hussain (RA) and his companions sacrificed their lives for Islam,” she said.
Senior Superintendent of Police Srinagar visited Zadibal during the day to assess the security arrangements there.
Earlier in the day, an attempt to take out a procession in Lal Chowk area was foiled by police. A group of Shia Muslims led by Tehreek-i-Mazahmat head Nissan Hussain Rather reached Lal Chowk but police reportedly cane-charged them when they refused to go away. On Saturday, Rather had said that no matter what, he will take out the procession through Civil Lines area and end it at Zadibal. Muharram processions in Civil Lines are banned since 1990.
In Ganderbal, hundreds of Shia mourners took out the Ashura procession in three separate places – at Dub, Balti Kullan and Sarbal. Shia leader Ilyas Hussain Abidi told Kashmir Reader that enemies of Islam were trying to divide the Muslim Ummah. Slogans against America and Israel were heard from the crowds. People also raised slogans against the regimes in Palestine, Myanmar, Bahrain, and some other countries.
Youm-i-Ashura was observed throughout the district, with Alam, Zuljinah and Tazia processions taken out amid tight security arrangements.
In Magam, the main procession was taken out from Malbuchan and it culminated at Imam Bargah Ahmadpora. The procession ended at late night after passing through its traditional route.
Thousands of people including women participated in more than a dozen processions that were taken out from different areas and which culminated at the main Imam Bargah at Ahmadpora.
In Budgam town, the main procession was taken out from Mirgund. After passing through its traditional route, it ended at Imam Bargah Budgam. A Majalis-i-Sham-i-Gharibaan was held in the evening to pay homage to Hazrat Imam Husain (RA) and his companions.
A large procession was taken out in Sultanpora area of Pattan. The procession started from Imam Bargah Sultanpora and concluded at the same place. To maintain brotherhood in the area, many Sunni youths helped in the conduct of the procession. Members of the Shia community hailed the efforts of the Sunni community. In Habak Tango and Aram Pora Pattan, processions were taken out in which hundreds of people participated.
—With inputs from Mushtaq Ahmad, Ishfaq Reshi and Sheikh Anees.