‘No Muharram processions in view of L&O apprehensions’

Shia community did not agree to participation of minimum mourners in processions: Official
A CRPF trooper stands guard behind a concertina wire amid restrictions to foil Muharram processions in city centre Lal Chowk on Tuesday August 17, 2021.
A CRPF trooper stands guard behind a concertina wire amid restrictions to foil Muharram processions in city centre Lal Chowk on Tuesday August 17, 2021.File: Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Srinagar: Apprehending the breach of law and order situation, the authorities Tuesday decided not to allow Muharram processions in Srinagar stating that the Shia community had not agreed to participation of minimum number of mourners during the processions.

The decision has been taken after several rounds of meetings and feedback with the law enforcement agencies.

“The civil administration held several meetings and requested to hold processions symbolically with maximum gatherings of up to 500 participants but the Shia representatives did not agree,” a top government official said, wishing anonymity. “In such a situation, the administration won’t allow processions as there is apprehension of breach of law and order.”

The official said that the decision had been taken after getting feedback from the law enforcement agency - J&K Police.

The two major processions, on the 8th and 10th days of Muharram, were banned in late 1980s by the erstwhile administration, citing instigation of people.

The first 10 days of Muharram, which mark the beginning of the new Islamic year, holds great significance amongst the Shia community who also commemorate the death of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)’s grandson Hussain Ibn Ali (AS) during the Battle of Karbala (a city in modern day Iraq) in the year 680 CE.

The authorities in J&K have banned large-scale processions in Kashmir in view of the security situation for the last three decades fearing that such a gathering could result in a law and order situation. The Muharram procession was for the first time banned in 1986 and in the wake of the outbreak of terrorism.

Since then the ban has continued.

During the pre-terrorism years, the procession on the eighth day of the month of Muharram would begin at Abi Guzar in Lal Chowk and pass through the heart of the city, ending at Zadibal in Srinagar downtown.

The Sunni community would provide drinks and food to the Shia mourners whenever the procession passed through their areas. Several representatives and Shia leaders held a round of meetings with the administration.

Senior administrative officials including Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar Bidhuri on Friday visited the areas including Imambara Zadibal, Imambara Hassanabad, and Imambara Magam to review facilities for the smooth observation of Muharram congregations and other related events.

On Monday, the second round of talks to break ice over the long-pending demand of the Shia community for an end over three decade ban on Muharram processions in Srinagar, was held at the civil secretariat here under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.

Besides LG Sinha, his Principal Secretary Mandeep Kumar Bhandari, Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta, Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, V K Bidhuri, ADGP Headquarters M K Sinha, ADGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar, and other senior officers of the Police and civil administration attended the meeting.

The meeting between the two sides lasted for over an hour during which various issues, including the prevailing security situation, were discussed.

A host of Shia leaders and representatives including Molvi Imran Raza Ansari and Agha Syed Mujtaba al-Musavi attended the meeting.

Earlier, LG Sinha, while chairing a meeting to review the arrangements for Muharram, had said that this was the occasion of utmost religious importance for all.

“The J&K administration and the Centre is working with sensitivity and commitment to ensure that all arrangements are made for smooth, safe, and hassle-free conduct of Muharram,” the LG had said.

In his directive to the Deputy Commissioners (DCs), the LG stressed the importance of improving connectivity to Imambaras, uninterrupted power supply, provision of extra ration, adequate water supply, basic amenities, regular market inspections, cleanliness, efficient traffic management, and the availability of the best possible medical facilities for the people. On Monday Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh said that all arrangements had been put in place for Muharram, besides every support would be provided to the “Shia brothers”. He said that J&K Police and other agencies were cooperating. “We hope and ensure peaceful Muharram processions and all out support to the Shia community,” the DGP had said.

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