Police Stop Shi'ite Muslims Procession, 80 Hurt

7 January 2009

Srinagar: At least 80 people were wounded on Tuesday when police broke up a procession by thousands of Shi'ite Muslims in Kashmir. The procession was held to mark Ashura, a period of mourning for Shi'ites. The mourners, many beating their chests with their fists, chanted 'La ilaha illalah'. Police said the mourners were led by a separatist group in Srinagar. According to witnesses, stone throwing Shi'ites clashed with police in several parts of Srinagar after the procession was stopped, and police fired teargas shells. 'We take out this procession every year, to keep the name of Imam Hussain alive. But we are always prohibited to take out this procession. Any government may it be National Conference or People's Democratic Party or Congress, every government halts this procession. We are not permitted to take out this procession independently. We don't accept this prohibition,' said Ashiq Hussain, a resident. Police officials said that more than 150 people were detained. The procession was headed by members of Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen Jammu Kashmir, part of the separatist alliance, the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference. During the first Muslim month of Muharram, Shi'ites across the world mourn the death of the Prophet's grandson Imam Hussein in the Iraqi city of Karbala in 680.