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Security Restrictions Mar Ashura in Kashmir, Procession to City Centre Blocked

Anees Zargar |
Many mourners questioned the partial curbs on the Shia community, claiming that Ashura processions are always ‘peaceful’.
Lal Chowk, Kashmir

Lal Chowk, Kashmir. Image Courtesy: Flickr

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir administration imposed restrictions in parts of the valley as members of the Shia community were barred from taking out a major procession in the city centre Lal Chowk on Tuesday to mark the holy day of Ashura.

The police imposed restrictions in the summer capital of Srinagar around Abi Guzar locality, which is a traditional stopover for thousands of Shia mourners. In many areas, including Lal Chowk, the security was beefed up to thwart any attempts of protest or demonstration.

However, the restrictions on Tuesday were not as stringent in the rest of the Old City, where people could commute.

The officials have maintained that there are no restrictions on the movement of the people anywhere else in the valley, including in Srinagar city.

The authorities had also allowed smaller intra-locality processions in parts of Zadibal, Alamgari Bazar and Hassanabad areas amidst a heightened security cover.

Ashura processions were taken out at several other places in central Kashmir’s Dabb, Ganderbal, South Kashmir’s Kulgam and parts of North Kashmir’s Pattan area. Tens of thousands of mourners paid tribute to Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, and his companions. The second largest Muslim sect after Sunnis, Shia Muslims commemorate the killings at the battle of Karbala under the rule of the Umayyad Caliphate in around 680 AD.

In Kashmir, the largest congregation is expected at Zadibal near the shrine of prominent Sufi saint Shams ud Din Iraqi and several other places. The authorities in Budgam district, however, imposed similar restrictions in these parts citing “law and order” as a reason.

The officials claimed these restrictions were being imposed as a precautionary measure on the occasion of Ashura.

The fresh curbs come after severe restrictions were imposed on Sunday, prompting serious criticism from the community members.

“For us, the Yazid (Umayyad governor) continues to live even today through the tyranny witnessed by people on a daily basis. People continue to face the same oppression, and it is a reminder to decide whether we have to choose the side of the oppressor or the oppressed,” a resident of Srinagar, Akhtar said.

Many mourners questioned the partial curbs on the community, claiming that these processions are always ‘peaceful’. “Everyone seems to be afraid right now, and the route to salvation is this procession. There are curbs on these processions because it is not merely a religious obligation but a movement. Karbala is a movement which is why everyone tries to suppress it, but it will continue,” another mourner said.

Meanwhile, many political leaders, including National Conference (NC) vice-president Omar Abdullah, visited the mourners and participated in the commemoration at Srinagar.

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