TEHRAN (defapress) – Dozens of Kashmiris injured as Indian police cracked down on Muharram processions on Saturday, the ninth day of the Islamic month of Muharram.
News ID: 81902
Publish Date: 30August 2020 - 18:36
At least 40 Shia mourners in the Indian-controlled Kashmir were injured on Saturday when government forces used batons, burst tear smoke shells and fired pellets to break up mourning processions on the ninth day of the Islamic month of Muharram, Press TV reported.
During the police crackdown in Srinagar, several youths were detained and many, including women, were allegedly “thrashed” by the forces.
Jafar Ali, a witness, told AFP the procession started in the Bemina area on the outskirts of Srinagar and was soon joined by hundreds of Shia mourners.
Witnesses told Kashmir Observer that a huge number of policemen intercepted the mourners who were chanting “Labaik Ya Hussain” and “Hussainiyat Zindabad”.
“When the mourners showed resistance and tried to march towards their destination (Imam Bargah), the cops resorted to baton and fired teargas canisters to disperse them,” Mohammad Ali, an eyewitness told Kashmir Observer.
Ali said the situation took an ugly turn when cops fired at the mourners with pellet guns, leaving many injured.
“The police action angered the mourners. They started chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans and engaged the cops in pitched battles.”
He said nearly six mourners were also taken into custody by the police and taken to the nearby police post.
“The mourners in the procession were adhering to social distancing norms and were wearing masks as well. I fail to understand why police used force against a peaceful procession,” Kifayat Hussain, a local said.
He said the procession would have concluded peacefully if the police had not used ‘brute force’ to disperse the mourners. He also alleged that police also thrashed many women and children while breaking up the procession.
"The procession was not just peaceful but was also following health protocols," said Sajjad Hussain, a witness. "They [government forces] unleashed such violence and did not spare even women mourners."
The Muslim-majority territory was already under a crippling lockdown before the coronavirus curbs and since last August, when New Delhi announced it was removing the region’s semi-autonomous status.
Some main Muharram processions have been banned in the Muslim-majority region since an armed rebellion broke out in 1989 demanding independence from India or a merger with neighboring Pakistan.
But Kashmiri Muslims have long complained the Indian administration curbs their religious freedom on the pretext of law and order while promoting an annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Himalayan Amarnath Shrine in Kashmir that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors.