SRINAGAR Srinagar civil lines turned into battle zone Wednesday after police lobbed tear smoke shells and resorted to cane charge to disperse thousands of mourners who defied restrictions to take out 8th Muharram procession.
Reports said while sporadic clashes broke out along many places across 5 kilometre Gurubazar-Dalgate stretch, the traditional route of 8th Muharram procession, thousands managed to converge on M A Road and marched towards Dalgate in a big procession.
Slogans like Labayk Ya Hussain reverberated the city centre while Police retreated from the area, according to eyewitnesses.
Earlier Police and paramilitary forces, which had sealed the entire civil lines from wee hours of Wednesday, were seen charging upon mourners resulting in ding dong battles between the two sides.
Restrictions were in place in the City areas falling under the jurisdiction of Shaheed Gunj, Batamaloo, Sherghari, Kothibagh, Ram Munshi Bagh, Maisuma, and Kral Khud Police stations to stop the procession.
Reports said hundreds of mourners surfaced in Batamaloo area of the City and tried to take out procession but a large posse of Police intercepted them near Fire and Emergency Service Headquarters. Police lobbed teargas shells and beat up mourners with bamboo sticks. Scores of them were bundled in the waiting Police vans and shifted to different Police stations.
Soon more groups emerged from Jehangir Chowk and Saraibala and began their march towards Dalgate.Here again Police blocked their way detaining dozens more.
Clashes also broke out in Dalgate area when mourners tried to break Police cordon and comeout of the beseiged locality.
By late afternoon hundreds of mourners converged at Exchange Road and soon formed into a big procession.
Police later scaled down its presence and allowed procession to forward. In the meanwhile procession continued to swell and concluded in Dalgate Imam Bargah in the evening.
Meanwhile Ittehadul Muslimeen, a religio-political body of Shia Muslims which had called on people to defy curbs and take out the procession, denounced government for unleashing a ‘reign of terror’ on the mourners.
Hundreds of mourners were beaten and detained in order to curb their freedom of religion, Ittehad said in a statement and saluted the mourners ‘for their determination to hold the banner of Hussayniat aloft.’
Hurriyat (M) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also condemned the restrictions imposed in various areas of Srinagar to prevent Muharram processions said the City is being held hostage by rulers.
Taking to social networking site Twitter, Mirwaiz wrote, Srinagar held hostage by rulers to disallow Muharram procession! Curbs and restrictions on peoples movement everywhere. Roads and alleys leading to hospitals especially SMHS also blocked ..sick being made to suffer! Harassment of people keeps getting worse by the day.