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Many injured as Shia mourners clash with police

Officials have disallowed Muharram processions

Many Shia mourners were injured in tear-gas shelling and pellet shotgun firing on Sunday as the authorities disallowed traditional Muharram processions in Srinagar and imposed strict restrictions. At least three policemen suffered injuries in the clashes.

Clashes broke out in Zadibal, Sazgari Pora, Hawal and Alamgari Bazar after the security forces disallowed the Muharram processions and used smoke shells and pellets to disperse the Shia Muslims.

“One mourner was hit by pellets from a very close range in the Zadibal area and was hospitalised,” said an official in a local hospital.

Many hit by pellets were locally treated in dispensaries. “Three youths were hit by pellets and were treated locally to avoid police action,” a local from Hawal told The Hindu.

About seven youths were hit by pellets in the upper body parts, including eyes, on Saturday in the Bemina area during clashes with the security forces.

“Two patients may lose sight at least in one eye,” a doctor at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital said.

Three policemen were injured in the clashes, a police official said.

Shia mourners traditionally organise processions in the old city’s Zadibal area on 10th Muharram to recall and remember the sacrifices made by Muslims 1,400 years ago during the battle of Karbala.

All roads in Shia majority areas in the old city were sealed after the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, recently decided to reimpose restrictions on religious gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there was no violence as Shia Muslims organised smaller processions in Baramulla and Budgam districts in the Valley as per traditions.

PDP slams police action

Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Suhail Bukhari condemned “the use of brute force on the peaceful Muharram procession in Kashmir.”

“Militating against a peaceful religious gathering has reflected the government’s iron fist approach in Kashmir. Such ruthless measures have proved beyond doubt that religion is being demonised, democratic dissent criminalised and cruelty is being normalised in Kashmir,” Mr. Bukhari said.

A spokesman of the Jammu and Kashmir Apni Party (JKAP) said the government curbs in Shia dominated areas “were highly regrettable.”

“Despite showing exemplary discipline in following all SOPs, Shias were barred from participating in congregational mourning. We strongly condemn the use of force,” the spokesman said.

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