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Muharram procession in Srinagar takes a nasty turn

On Muharram, Muslims take out processions and grieve the death of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, Hussain Ibn Ali, along with family and companions, by the army of yazid on 10 Muharram, 608 AD. This year due to COVID-19 the Supreme Court refused to allow them to carry out processions to ensure the safety of Muslims from the virus and our media. This was also decided in a meeting held by the divisional commissioner which included Security officials and leaders of the Shia community. In Srinagar though mourners didn’t heed to the Supreme Court’s order and carried out many marches. There were around a dozen marches in Srinagar which the police had to curtail. However, in one of these marches, events took a sour turn and wounded quite a few mourners, including women and children.

This unfortunate incident took place near the Bemina circle in Srinagar on 29th August, 2020. Though the march was peaceful and followed health guidelines it was against the order given by the Supreme Court. Kashmiri police after a few warnings decided to take matters into their own hands and fired pellet guns. They also used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Some of the victims however claimed that no provocation was given and the police just opened fire. While there still isn’t an official count, medical workers say that more than 40 people were injured. More than six have pellet injuries in the eye. This figure can go up drastically since a huge issue that the victims face is fear of getting arrested and hence they can’t go to the hospital. Therefore, it can be difficult for them to get proper treatment for their wounds. Section 144 was imposed in parts of Srinagar on Sunday to stop people from taking part in further processions.

The Senior Superintendent of Police in Srinagar and the Inspector General of Police Kashmir declined to clarify as to why such a drastic action took place. This incident adds to a long list of situations where police have used pellet guns to disperse crowds in Kashmir. These types of guns are not only dangerous but can lead to life-threatening injuries for the person on the receiving end of it. In this particular instance, police were following the court’s order but to use such extreme means deserves an explanation.

Reporter: Rishit Roy

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