Police fire tear gas to break up Muharram procession in Indian occupied Kashmir

Published August 17, 2021
A Kashmiri Shia mourner kicks an exploded tear gas canister during a procession in central Srinagar area of Indian occupied Kashmir on Tuesday. — AP
A Kashmiri Shia mourner kicks an exploded tear gas canister during a procession in central Srinagar area of Indian occupied Kashmir on Tuesday. — AP
Indian policemen detain a Kashmiri Shia for participating in a procession in central Srinagar area of Indian occupied Kashmir on Tuesday. — AP
Indian policemen detain a Kashmiri Shia for participating in a procession in central Srinagar area of Indian occupied Kashmir on Tuesday. — AP

Police in Indian occupied Kashmir (IoK) fired tear gas and warning shots on Tuesday to disperse members of the Shia Muslims community who attempted to participate in processions marking the month of Muharram. Dozens of people were detained.

Hundreds of Muslims chanting religious and pro-freedom slogans took to the streets in the main city of Srinagar despite security restrictions banning the traditional procession.

Government forces used batons to beat journalists covering the procession, according to a local reporter. Authorities erected steel barricades and barbed wire to block the crowds.

“We respect the religious sentiments and practices of all, but at the same time, it is also our joint responsibility to defeat the ill designs of vested interests who try to disturb the peaceful atmosphere,” Inspector General of Polce Vijay Kumar said on Twitter.

Muharram is among the holiest months for Shia Muslims across the world and includes large processions in which people recite elegies to mourn the death of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) grandson. The mourning reaches its peak on Ashura, the 10th day of the month in the Islamic lunar calendar. Tuesday’s procession marked the eighth day on the calendar.

The traditional religious procession turned violent last year as Indian forces fired shotgun pellets to disperse crowds, injuring dozens.

Some main Muharram processions have been banned in Indian occupied Kashmir since 1989 when the locals demanded the region’s independence from India or its merger with Pakistan.

Kashmiri Muslims have long complained that the government is curbing their religious freedom on the pretext of maintaining law and order while promoting an annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Himalayan Amarnath Shrine in Kashmir that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors. The pilgrimage has been cancelled for the last two years because of the coronavirus.

Opinion

Editorial

Olympics contingent
21 Jul, 2024

Olympics contingent

FROM 10 in Tokyo the last time, it is now down to seven in Paris, and split across just three disciplines. When...
Grave concerns
21 Jul, 2024

Grave concerns

PUNJAB Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz’s open assault on the Supreme Court for ruling in favour of the PTI in the...
Civil unrest
Updated 21 Jul, 2024

Civil unrest

The government must start putting out fires instead of fanning more flames.
Royal tantrum
Updated 20 Jul, 2024

Royal tantrum

The PML-N's confrontational stance and overt refusal to respect courts orders on arguably flimsy pretexts is a dangerous sign.
Bangladesh chaos
Updated 20 Jul, 2024

Bangladesh chaos

The unfortunate events playing out in Bangladesh should serve as a warning sign for other South Asian states.
Fitch’s estimate
20 Jul, 2024

Fitch’s estimate

FITCH seems to be more optimistic about Pakistan accelerating its economic growth rate to 3.2pc during this fiscal...