Abid Hussain

Police use force to foil Muharram processions

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Restrictions imposed in parts of Srinagar  

PHOTO/Javed Khan

Srinagar, Sep 19: Police on Wednesday used force on Shia mourners to prevent them from taking out a Muharram procession in “violation of prohibitory orders in force” in the Srinagar city.

Carrying banners and shouting pro-Islam slogans, the mourners tried to march towards the city centre were administration had imposed restrictions.

Witnesses said scores of mourners took out a march from Dalgate area of Srinagar and proceeded towards the city center. However, when the procession reached Dalgate Chowk police intercepted the mourners and asked to them to retreat.

As the mourners offered resistance and tried to break the cordon, police resorted to baton charge and fired numerous tear gas shells to disperse them.

However, a large number of mourners were able to reach Lal Chowk where police swung into action and again fired tear gas shells to disperse them.

Several mourners broke the police cordon near MA Road also and proceeded towards Shaheed Gunj.

Earlier today, police also detained scores of Shia mourners to prevent them to take Muharram procession in Batamaloo area of Srinagar.

Authorities on Tuesday had already ordered restrictions in the areas falling under the jurisdiction of Shaheed Gunj, Batamaloo, Shergari, Kothibagh, Ram Munshi Bagh, Maisuma, and Kral Khud police stations.

As the mourners tried to take out a procession from Batamaloo area of the city a large posse of police intercepted them near Fire and Emergency Services Headquarters and bundled them in police vans.

Witnesses said that dozens of people donning black attires were either detained or grilled by police around Batamaloo area.

Bizarre it may seem, but this is what happened. Not only the mourners of Shia community who were dressed in black clothes for the Muharram, but even the non-Shia people wearing black clothes were questioned about their identity.

“Each person, who was seen donning black attire by policemen, particularly in the Batamaloo area where Shia mourners attempted to take out a procession, was asked to reveal his identity. If the person turned out to be Shia, he was bundled into the police vehicle, and if not then he was inquired about his name and address and after a proper identification parade, allowed to move on,” witnesses said.

A non-Shia youth with black attire was questioned in front of this reporter about his sect. He was allowed to go after he convinced the cops that he was not a Shia.

‘Kashmir Images’ also has an audio recording of the incident.

Another person who had some work in the High Court was also grilled. He was wearing a black dress and he was let off only after proving to the police that he did not belong to Shia community.

Interestingly, a photographer working with a local daily took off his black shirt thinking that he may also be detained.

"I told him (photographer) to take off his black shirt to avoid being arrested," said a colleague of photographer.

Meanwhile, normal life in the Srinagar was Wednesday badly affected as the restrictions imposed by authorities in certain areas of the city as a “precautionary measure to regulate Muharram processions” created chaos and confusion for both pedestrians as well as the vehicular traffic.

Restrictions were imposed under Section 144 CrPC in police station areas of Shaheedgunj, Batmaloo, Shergari, Kothibagh, Ram Munshi Bagh, Maisuma  and Kralkhud, a police spokesman said.

Various important road junction roads including even the inner lanes leading towards these areas were blocked for vehicular movement. Owing to this, it was virtually impossible for the people from downtown Srinagar to reach uptown areas.

Authorities had also shut down all educational institutions in the city.

The restrictions imposed by authorities without prior information threw normal life out of gear in Srinagar city.

While shops and other business establishments in the affected areas remained closed, massive traffic jams were witnessed at many places due to road blockades and barriers set up by authorities.

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