ITIFAQ LONE /ARIF RASHID
Srinagar: Several mourning processions commemorating the sacrifice of Imam Hussain (RA) and his companions in Karbala were taken out by Shia Muslims in various parts of Srinagar on the 8th day of Muharram on Wednesday. However, government forces foiled similar Muharram processions in many other areas of the city.
Although authorities had imposed strict restrictions in areas falling under more than ten police stations – of Shaheed Gunj, Maisuma, Kralkhud, Kothibagh, Batamaloo, Sherghari, Karan Nagar, Ram Munshi Bagh (partly), Nowhatta, Khanyar, Rainawari, Safakadal – mourning rituals of Muharram were witnessed in many of these areas.
Hundreds of people including men and children defied restrictions to assemble at Dal Gate and later marched towards Residency Road and Maulana Azad Road chanting elegies.
Police intercepted the march midway and used tear smoke shells to disperse the mourners, who raised slogans such as “Labaik Ya Hussain”. Later, the mourners re-assembled at the Polo View area but government forces again dispersed them with tear smoke. Police also reportedly detained dozens of mourners while foiling the Muharram procession.
Another group of mourners took out a procession near Shaheed Gunj. It passed through Karan Nagar with scores of men, women and children from the Shia community clad in black clothes marching together. This procession was also intercepted and foiled by government forces midway.
Another procession was taken out from Goni Khan up to Jehangir Chowk. Hundreds of people from the Shia community participated in it. Many mourners were seen beating their chests and heads with iron blades. Government forces detained dozens of mourners when they tried to march towards Shaheed Gunj.
Saqib Ali, one of the mourners part of the procession, told Kashmir Reader, “We are ready to face any difficulty. We will take our mourning procession throughout Srinagar city.”
Clashes between police and mourners also erupted in Batamaloo area. Police had laid concertina wires across main roads in the area to block pedestrian movement.
Meanwhile, a photojournalist performing his professional duties was allegedly thrashed by government forces while covering Muharram processions near Jahangir Chowk. Shah Jahangir, affiliated with a local news agency, said he was beaten up by government forces near Jahangir Chowk while he was covering a procession.
“I was there to perform my professional duties but the men in uniform not only thrashed me but also stopped me from performing my duties,” Shah told Kashmir Reader. He said he was let go only after a thorough beating by the forces.
Station House Officer (SHO) Kothibagh, Sajjad Hassan, told Kashmir reader that the situation was normal in the area and no one was injured.