'Deep-rooted prejudice': Pakistan strongly condemns tear gas shelling on Muharram procession in IoK

Published August 19, 2021
A Kashmiri Shia Muslim holds a religious banner as he stands amid tear gas smoke fired by Indian policemen during a Muharram procession in central Srinagar, Indian-occupied Kashmir, on Tuesday. — AP/File
A Kashmiri Shia Muslim holds a religious banner as he stands amid tear gas smoke fired by Indian policemen during a Muharram procession in central Srinagar, Indian-occupied Kashmir, on Tuesday. — AP/File

Pakistan on Wednesday strongly condemned the Indian forces' use of tear gas to disperse a "peaceful Muharram procession" in occupied Kashmir a day earlier.

On Tuesday, police in Srinagar fired tear gas and warning shots to disperse members of the Shia Muslim community who wanted to participate in processions marking the month of Muharram. They also detained dozens of people.

Government forces also used batons to beat journalists covering the procession, according to a local reporter.

In a statement today, the Foreign Office said the Indian government's restrictions on processions during Muharram represented a "complete disrespect and deep-rooted prejudice [...] for the sentiments of the Muslims" in Indian occupied Kashmir.

It termed the restrictions a "flagrant violation" of Kashmiris' fundamental right to freely practise their religion.

The Foreign Office said India needed to realise that it could not break the will of the Kashmiri people to struggle for their right to self-determination through "oppression, intimidation and systematic violation of fundamental rights".

Pakistan called upon the international community, United Nations and other human rights organisations to take notice of the "brutal suppression of the religious rights and freedoms" of the people in Indian-occupied Kashmir which was a violation of international law and conventions, the statement further said.

A day earlier, IoK's Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar said that "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."

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.

The Muharram procession in IoK 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.

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