SRINAGAR: Thousands of mourners, chanting Labaik Ya Hussain, marched from different directions of the city Wednesday towards the Gurubazar-Dalgate stretch in defiance of government restrictions to take out traditional Alam Sharif procession of 8th Muharram which remains banned for last 23 years.
Police and paramilitary CRPF had been deployed in strength on all entry points of the stretch which were blocked with concertina wire and bunker vehicles.
Police created road blocks at Karanagar, Jahangir Chowk, Budshah Chowk, Amira Kadal, Bund, Iqbal Park, Munwar crossing, TRC Crossing and Dalgate to prevent the mourners from marching towards Dalgate.
District administration had already announced ban on the procession which was traditionally taken out from Gurubazar-Shaheed Gunj to Dalgate on the day before 1990 and announced restrictions in areas falling under jurisdiction of five police stations of uptown.
However the ban by successive governments has turned the event into a showdown between mourners, mostly followers of senior Shia leader Molvi Abbas Ansari and the government. Molvi Abbas who calls the ban discriminatory and defies it every year was placed under house arrest a day ahead this year.
However since morning itself groups of mourners assembled at various points and tried to march towards Dalgate only to be met with police resistance.
A large group of mourners assembled at Batamlu and soon took a shape of procession which was led by Itehadul Muslimeen leader Syed Muzafar Rizvi. As the mourners, dressed in black and beating their chests, marched towards Budshah Chowk, they were intercepted by police.
Police resorted to cane charge and lobbed scores of tear gas canisters at the mourners. Undeterred mourners moved forward but were intercepted resulting in clashes.. Police said 75 mourners were detained and lodged at Shaheed Gunj Police Station.
Another procession started from Kak Sarai almost immediately and was intercepted by police near Shaheed Ganj where mourners clashed with riot police.
Eyewitnesses alleged that police used force to quell the procession resulting in the injuries of scores of mourners. During the clash a police official also suffered injuries.
The police also swung into action and charged at mourners in Shuhtra Shahi,Tankipora near DC office, Chinkral Mohalla in Habba Kadal area, Magarmal Bagh and Dalgate.
The police fired scores of tear gas shells to disperse the mourners. Some 10 people received injuries in these clashes.
Scores of people including a video journalist sustained injuries while as nearly 100 persons were arrested following clampdown on the mourners during the day.
At Dalgate despite heavy presence of police and CRPF large number of youth managed to take out procession which later culminated at Hussaini Hall in the evening.
While uptown had turned into a battle zone between mourners and riot police today, thousands of Shias took out processions in interiors of Zadibal in the old city peacefully.
Muharram procession were also taken out at different places of Valley which dispersed peacefully. Processions were taken out in Zadibal, Shalimar, Lal Bazar, Ashai Bagh, Kani Kacchi, Mir Behri, Gulshan Bagh, Hamdania Colony Bemina, Hanjik, Gund Hasi Bhat, Pazipora, Nowgam Sonawari, Hajin, Inderkot, Sumbal, Zorigund and Sonapah Beerwa.
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