Police Uses Force On Shia Mourners4 December 2011
Srinagar: Scores of Shia mourners were injured and more than 200 arrested on Sunday when police resorted to baton charge and lobbed tear smoke shells to prevent them from taking out 8th Muharram processions. Police and para-military personnel were deployed in strength in city centre Lalchowk. The cops had blocked the roads at Karanagar, Jehangir Chowk and Budshah Chowk with concertina wires to prevent the Shia mourners from taking out the procession. Heavy deployments were also made in old city areas. The cops were enforcing strict restrictions in uptown and old city areas. However, defying restrictions hundreds of Shia youth took out a Muharram procession from Shaheed Gunj area of Srinagar. Chanting pro-Islamic slogans, the processionists were led by Ittehadul Muslimeen president Masroor Abbas. The procession was intercepted by police and paramilitary personnel near Jehangir Chowk. The cops lobbed dozens of tear smoke shells and resorted to baton charge to quell the mourners. Several mourners including Masroor Abass were arrested. However, the mourners regrouped near Kashmir Haat and pelted stones towards the cops, who retaliated by lobbing tear smoke shells. When the mourners refused to budge, the cops lobbed water cannons to disperse the mourners at Jehangir Chowk and Budhsah Chowk. Police arrested dozens of mourners and lodged them in police station Kothibagh, Maisuma, Shaheed Gunj and Rajbagh. Earlier police also arrested senior Hurriyat (G) member Nisar Hussain Rather along with dozens of supporters when he tried to lead a Muharram procession from Jehangir Chowk. Meanwhile, hundreds of people assembled at Hyderiya Hall Dalgate and took out a procession to mark the day. “Preventing us from taking out Muharram procession is grave injustice and infringes our religious sentiments. When the government can provide huge security to Amaranth pilgrims why are not we (the residents of State) being allowed to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS),” said mourners in old city Srinagar. The government banned Muharram processions in Valley after eruption of militancy in the State. The ban is still enforced and Shia mourners are not allowed to take out processions on 8th and 10th Muharram. Traditionally, 8th Muharram procession used to start from Shaheed Gunj and culminate at Heydira Hall Dalgate while 10th Muharram procession would start from Abi Guzar area in Lal Chowk and end at Zadibal Imam Bara in old city. A police officer said the restrictions had to be imposed in some parts of the city today as a precautionary measure to maintain law and order. He said 70 Shia mourners were arrested by police and lodged in different police stations. Meanwhile, various separatists groups condemned the police action on the Shia mourners. Senior Hurriyat (M) leader and patron Ittehadul Muslimeen Maulana Abbas Ansari termed police action as frustration of the government. “The whole city was turned into military garrison to prevent the free movement of the people in the city,” he said. He strongly condemned the police action on the Shia mourners. JKLF acting chairman Bashir Ahmad Bhat said it is strange that the administration facilitates Amarnath Yatra but restricts peaceful Muharram processions. Senior vice chairman JKLF (R) Javed Ahmad Mir also condemned the police action. “The government has adopted Israeli policy to deal with innocent Kashmiris, who are not even allowed to take out religious processions,” he said. General Secretary, Khadimul Ambiya Blood Bank, Shabir Hussain said the peaceful mourners were mercilessly beaten. “Many mourners were injured and have been hospitalized,” he said.