Vox popli: Why ban Muharram processions in Srinagar?
Since 1990, the ban on traditional 8th and 10th Muharram processions in Srinagar continues till date. The Shia Muslims, who visit Kashmir capital from different parts of the Valley to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions, are bizarrely meted out with tear gas canisters by the government forces. This, in a way, amount to curbs on freedom of religion. Abid Hussain of Kashmir Images spoke to some people about the ban. Here are the excerpts:
Irfan Ali Najar, Political Science Student
The ban on Muharram processions in Kashmir reflects the repressive nature of Indian state. Using coercive policies regarding larger religious gatherings are clear question marks over the much proclaimed notions of secular democracy. So this unjustified ban shows the extreme intolerance of state towards religion and religious freedom.
Muntazir Mehdi, Entrepreneur
It is the duty of the government to ensure that Muharram processions in Kashmir are undertaken without any impediments. There is no justification, whatsoever, to put a ban on such processions which are religious in nature. It is an obvious discrimination against Shia Muslims and in this way their identity is being crushed.
Saif Ali, Freelance Writer
On one hand India is claiming to be the world’s largest democracy but on the other hand Muslims being in minority are not even allowed to perform their religious rituals. If India has problems with Muslim gatherings, then it should also ban Muslim gatherings in elections. How far India will befool the world with so called democracy! You call it democracy we call it democratic terrorism. It’s our right to perform our religious duties. Thus Indian government must end the 28 years of continuous ban on Muharram processions in Srinagar.
Syed Zeeshan Jaipuri, Poet and Writer
In order to understand Muharram processions one has to understand that it’s not merely a religious ritual but it carries message of peace, justice, equality and liberty for all mankind, as this is what Imam Hussain (as) stood for. These processions remind us that how ruling people with might and oppressive policies remain in sight for some little duration and how sacrifice and love rules hearts for hundreds of years. This is why the state is invoking ban on such processions and treat them as a threat. If they had no record of human rights violations they would never stop such processions.
Aiman Zehra, Student
India only treats Kashmir as a security problem and therefore exercises extra caution, thinking that any substantial religious gathering, like Muharram, could possibly turn into a pro-freedom rally and thus challenges India’s rule in Kashmir. Further, why can’t people commemorate the martyrdom of their religious heroes and express their love through religious rituals?
Masrat Zahra, Photojournalist
It’s pointless to keep away Shiite Muslims from traditional Muharram processions. If gatherings of other religions are allowed, why they have put a ban on Muharram processions? If the state government is allowing and facilitating the Amarnath Yatra in a conflict zone each year, why can’t they allow Muharram processions? Why are they breaching the religious freedom of Muslims alone? What kind of democracy is this?
Mukhtar Dar, Journalist
Ban on Muharram processions is an attack on religious freedom and sprit of rightfulness. From centuries these processions are renewing the sprit to fight against hedonism, injustice and cruelty to create conducive environment for justice and equality. Apart from this, restricting mourners to carry out religious rituals in itself is destroying the narrative through which xenophobic media of India is misrepresenting Shia community of Kashmir. Ban on Muharram gatherings is depicting that all Kashmiris are equal before India which is providing us imparkation to unite against tyranny.
Ruhullah Basharat, Employee
Constitution of India has given religious rights to every citizen. How this secular nature of India can be proved if minorities are deprived from their religious rights? There should not be any kind of ban on Muharram processions and rights of the minorities must be protected and upheld.