Police Foil Muharram Procession, Use Batons, Teargas Shells; Dozens Injured

22 October 2015
Greater Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: Police Thursday foiled the Muharram procession by resorting to massive baton charge and firing of dozens of tear smoke shells leaving at least 20 policemen and dozens of mourners injured. At least 30 mourners were detained and taken into preventive custody. Entire city centre-Lal Chowk - got enveloped in a thick smoke cover after hundreds of mourners tried to take out a procession to mark the martyrdom anniversary of Hazrat Imam Hussain(AS), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The procession was organized by Anjuman-e-Itehadul Muslimeen headed by senior Hurriyat Conference (M) leader Moulana Abbass Ansari. However, the authorities had placed Ansari under house arrest. The procession was supposed to be led by Ansari's son Masroor Abbas Ansari, who was also placed under house arrest by the authorities. Hundreds of mourners had assembled at Shaheed Guj to take out a major procession that would pass from Jehangir chowk, Moulana Azad Road and culminate at Dalgate. However, the authorities had put section 144 in place and also imposed strict restrictions in the areas falling under the police stations Shaheed Gunj, Ram Munshi Bagh and Dalgate. Police had also placed barbed wires on many entry points leading to city centre to prevent any major gathering of mourners. The mourners, in small groups, however, managed to reach Jehangir Chowk where they were intercepted by the police leading to clashes. Policemen who were deployed in length fired many tear smoke canisters to disperse the mourners. Police bundled many mourners into the vehicles who were later taken into preventive custody. Similarly, many mourners managed to reach Dalgate from Abi-Guzar and other adjoining areas. They, too, were prevented by the police leading to clashes. The mourners were raising pro-Islam and anti-government slogans. Police also prevented a group of mourners who were trying to take out a procession from Abi-Guzar. The mourners resorted to stone-pelting on forces forcing police to fire tear smoke shells. Massive clashes erupted between Shia mourners at policemen at Nowpora near Dalgate. Witnesses said that the mourners were trying to take out a procession and from Dalgate. Police sources said since section 144 was in place, they were forced to move back. The mourners, however, raised anti-government slogans and hurled brickbats at policemen. The police responded with firing of dozens of tear smoke shells. Talking to Greater Kashmir, Masroor Abbas, who is the president of Anjuman-e-Itehad-ul Muslimeen, preventing Shia mourners from taking out processions is a direct religious interference which is highly condemnable. All the processions were supposed to be taken out under the Shia-Sunni Coordination Committee. 'I strongly denounce the curbs and the force used by the police on mourners at various areas of Srinagar,' Abbas said. He said at least three dozen mourners have been lodged in various police stations. 'Restrictions are against the religious freedom and needs to be condemned in strong words,' he said. Abbas said that the process was supposed to start from Shaheed Gunj and pass through Lal Chowk and Moulana Azad road and would culminate at Hyderiya hall at Dalgate. 'The reasons cited by the government for banning the procession are security and transport problem. I want to ask the government how they manage pilgrims of Amarnath Yatra,' he said. Abbas also condemned the government's decision of putting him and his father under house arrest. He claimed that many mourners got injured in the police action. 'I strongly condemn the use of force on the mourners,' he said. Pertinently, the authorities have not allowed the Muharram procession in the city centre since 1989 which was traditionally taken out on 8th of Islamic month, Muharram. The Inspector General of Police Kashmir range, Syed Javid Mujtaba Gilani said that the mourners violated Section 144 imposed in Srinagar. 'There were incidents of clashes between mourners and police. Overall the day was peaceful,' he said. According to Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar Amit Kumar at least 20 policemen were injured. 'There are some officers among the injured,' he said. Police sources said that maximum restraint was maintained on ground while dealing with the mourners. 'A few dozens of them were taken into preventive custody, who would be released later,' they said.