POLICE FOIL MUHARRAM PROCESSIONS
Scores Injured, Dozens Detained
SHABIR IBN YUSUF
Srinagar, Nov 23: Scores of Shia mourners were injured on Friday while dozens of them arrested in different areas of Srinagar after they clashed with police. Severe restrictions had been put in place in several areas of the summer capital to foil the processions held to mark 8th Muharram and also foil the possible eruption of protests against the Israeli attacks on Gaza. The restrictions hit normal work in government departments and educational institutions while a few commercial areas remained shut for throughout the day.
Police and paramilitary CRPF men were deployed in strength in Srinagar city throughout the day as a “precautionary measure to avoid any law and order problem.” The cops had blocked roads at many places—including Karan Nagar, Jehangir Chowk, Iqbal Park, Tourist Reception Centre, The Bund, Abi Guzar and Budshah Chowk—with concertina wire and armored vehicles to prevent the Shia mourners from taking out the procession. The cops had established barricades at different road junctions to stop the movement of people and transport. Additional deployment of forces was made in ‘vulnerable areas’ like Maisuma and Lal Chowk to help maintain law and order.
Pertinently, the Hurriyat Conference (G) and some other separatist organizations had called for symbolic afternoon protests against the Israeli aggression on Gaza city of Palestine, which led to killing of scores of civilians, mainly children.
At most places in old Srinagar, the residents were not able to offer congregational Friday prayers. The Friday prayers were not offered at historic Jamia Masjid here as the area witnessed a curfew-like situation. “It was curfew-like situation in Nowhatta from early morning,” a resident told Greater Kashmir.
Mushtaq Ahmad of Baba Demb area said CRPF and policemen prevented them from moving out. “They asked us to stay indoors,” he said. Ahmad said even milk-men or bakers were not allowed to open shops in the morning.
Traditionally, the 8th Muharram procession would start from Shaheed Gunj here and culminate at Heydira Hall Dalgate while 10th Muharram procession would start from Abi Guzar area in Lal Chowk and end at Zadibal Imam Bara in old Srinagar.
Clashes between forces and mourners broke out in at least six areas of Srinagar, including Batamaloo and Jahangir Chowk. Police cane-charged and burst tear smoke shells to disperse the mourners, causing injuries to scores of them. Police also detained dozens of mourners.
Witnesses said clashes broke out in Batamaloo and Jehangir Chowk areas when mourners defied police restrictions and tried to take out a procession from Guru Bazar area. Police resorted to cane-charging and later fired tear smoke shells to disperse the protesters. The mourners pelted stones at the police and fought pitched battles for quite some time. They accused police of using ‘brute force’ against them. “Police has not been allowing us to perform our religious obligation for the past 20 years now. This is a direct interference in the religious affairs of people,” they said, adding, “More than 150 people were taken into custody and over three-dozen injured in the police action.”
Clashes between people and forces also erupted in Saraf Kadal area of old Srinagar soon after the Friday prayers. People pelted stones on forces and fought pitched battles till evening.
Later, hundreds of mourners appeared at Dalgate bus stand. Heavy contingents of police and CRPF led by a Deputy Superintendent of Police (Dy SP) reached the spot to disperse them. However, mourners did not relent, triggering clashes. The mourners pelted stones on cops who in turn fired tear smoke shells to disperse them. Clashes continued till late in the evening.
However, a senior police official said only “50 people were taken into preventive custody as they violated Section 144 which was in force in Srinagar.” “They also turned violent and pelted stones at the police. Two of our men were injured in the ensued clashes,” he said.
The police official said restrictions were imposed to maintain law and order.
Meanwhile clashes also broke out at two places in Baramulla town of north Kashmir. Reports said groups of youth pelted stones at police at Cement Bridge and Tehsil road. However they were chased away.
A police spokesman Friday evening said the situation remained by and large peaceful, barring sporadic incidents of stone pelting at Saraf Kadal, Batamaloo in district Srinagar and on Cement Bridge, Baramulla.
The spokesman said cops “exercised maximum restraint and dispersed the pelters.” “However, one policeman was injured when some miscreants pelted stones on police deployments near Fire Services crossing in Batamaloo,” he said. “As a precautionary measure, heavy deployments of police were made today at few places in Srinagar.”
Meanwhile Shia leader Moulana Abbas Ansari and his son Masroor Abbas, who were scheduled to lead a Muharram procession here, were kept under house detention.
Talking to Greater Kashmir Masroor Abbas said: “We have confirmed reports that over 150 mourners have been beaten to pulp and over 200 detained by police.” He condemned the government action.
Meanwhile the Shia Association also condemned the ban on Muharram processions and police action on mourners.
Lastupdate on : Fri, 23 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 23 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 24 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST
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