SrinagarPolice on Friday fired tear smoke shells and resorted to cane charge to foil attempts by Shia Muslim mourners to take out traditional Muharram procession in civil lines areas of Srinagar.
Muharram processions in the civil lines area of the city are banned ever since 1990, with government citing ‘ security considerations’ as the reason.
Ittehadul Muslimeen, a Shia constituent of the Hurriyat Conference, had vowed to take out the procession from Gurubazar to Dalgate today (8th Muharram) as it said govt ban was unwarranted and an attempt to suppress Shia right to mourn martyrs of Karbala.
Though the authorities allow small Alam and Zuljinah processions in Shia dominated areas of the old city and villages it has constantly curbed any attempt by the community to resume past practice of marching through the major thoroughfares of the city on 8th and 10th of Muharram.
On Friday entire stretch of traditional Muharram procession was sealed off with barbed wires and heavy deployment of gun totting police and paramilitary men.
A curfew was clamped on a vast area spanning over the jurisdiction of the eight police stations of the Srinagar city from early on Friday.
However soon after Friday prayers groups of black clad Shia mourners, chanting Labayk Ya Hussain appeared on different points on the 5 kilometer stretch from Guru Bazar to Dalgate.
Soon armed police swung into action and resorted to intense cane charge and tear smoke shelling on the mourners.
Fierce clashes broke out as a result of the police action.
Scores of mourners were dragged to waiting police vehicles and locked up in various police stations.
Eyewitnesses said first major attempt was made at Jehangir Chowk where Ittehadul Muslimeen president Maulana Masroor Abbas Ansari emerged with hundreds of mourners.
Soon it formed into a major procession.
Police intervention led to scuffles and later into clashes.
Masroor along with scores of mourners was detained.
Soon afterwards another procession emerged from Abi Guzar area but police foiled it also and arrested many as they reached the Pratap Park.
Soon entire area from Batmaloo to Dalgate turned into a battle zone.
Clashes were on when reports last came in the evening.
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