January 2008 News

IUM challenges ban on Muharram

17 January 2008
The Daily Excelsior

SRINAGAR: Challenging the ban on Muharram processions imposed in the summer capital by authorities in the High Court, the Intihad-ul-Muslimeen (IUM) said it was a denial of religious and fundamental rights. However, the High Court issued a notice to the authorities seeking objections on a petition filed by the IUM within two weeks without saying anything about processions being taken out tomorrow and on January 20 (8th and 10 day of Muharram month). The petition described the ban on the religious processions as violation of religious rights and against international law. It appealed to the court to quash the ban so that Shia Muslims could perform religious duty. A single bench comprising Justice M Y Mir issued notice to the State, including Finance Commissioner Home, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and District Magistrate, Srinagar, to file objections within two weeks. The authorities have imposed a ban on Muharram processions in the city on the 8th and 10th Muharram month every year. However, no ban order was communicated to the organisers of these processions despite several requests to authorities, the petitioner said adding whenever Shia Muslims tried to join the procession near here, they were being arrested, lathicharged and teargassed. The petition said Shia Sects of Muslims were taking out processions on 8th and 10th day of Muharram month through different routes before concluding at Imambada Zadibal and Khushalsar. But to avoid any unpleasant incident during the procession, it was decided on the request of then Chief Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1977 that Muharram processions would be taken out from Abi Guzar to Zadibal through the old city. However, in late 1989, the then Governor imposed a ban on taking out these two processions and the ban was still on, the petition said. The petition also mentioned that religious processions were being taken in the Valley since 1527 when Sultan Mohammad Shah was King. The IUM had been seeking permission for taking out the procession on the eve of Ashura from the District Magistrate Srinagar and the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir. 'We were being granted permission in the past but when people gathered at Abi Guzar or any other place, they were beaten up and lodged in jails,' the petition said adding the petitioners had a constitutional and legal right to profess their faith and religion and the State was bound to facilitate the religious practices of its citizens. The petition further said the action of the State was in violation of the Constitution and law and amounted to religious interference. The petitionerís counsel argued that freedom of religion was also guaranteed by international law and declaration on elimination of all forms of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or beliefs. (UNI)

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