Police Break-up Midnight Muharram Procession in Old City

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SRINAGAR: Police used force and allegedly thrashed mourners to break up a mid-night Muharram procession in Zadibal area of the old city, witnesses said Monday.

Around 12:00 am Monday night, a sizable number of mourners, mostly women and children, took out a procession from Khushhal Sar locality in the interiors of Zadibal as per traditional practice, witnesses said. The procession was joined by more people as it passed through the narrow lanes of the locality towards the shrine of Hazrat Mir Shamsuddin Araki.

“All the mourners were following SOPs, maintaining social distance and wearing masks. When the procession reached near the shrine, a posse of policemen led by SHO appeared there and resorted to baton charge. Cops also burst a tear smoke shell and fired pellets,” alleged one Mohammad Sadiq, an eyewitness.

He said that the police action led to a melee and stampede leading to minor injuries to many mourners, including women and kids.

“There was absolute chaos. The cops attacked the procession while shouting and screaming. They even barged into residential houses looking for boys,” he added.

Sabia Hussain, another witness said that the cops also entered the shrine and baton charged whosoever they came by. She said that the cops didn’t even spare women and children.

“The police action was unwarranted and uncalled for. The procession was about to conclude at the shrine when the cops came out charging from their vehicles,” she said.

Sabia also alleged that the police was rounding up heads of the families for holding planned night long majaalis at their respective places.

The alleged police action also triggered outrage on social media after a 1.52 minute video clip showing police beating mourners went viral.

In the short duration video, the mourners were seen screaming and engaging in a heated argument with the policemen.

“You cannot do this. This is our religious practice. And it was a peaceful procession,” a woman mourner can be heard shouting.

“How dare they beat me up? How can you touch women? Were we shouting Azadi slogans?” shouts another woman at cops.

Earlier reports said that flags of Lebanese resistance group Hezbollah hoisted at various places in the old city were seized by the police.

When contacted, SHO Zadibal Mr Javed refused to comment on the allegations of highhandedness leveled against his men.

“At lower level, we are not allowed to talk to media. Only senior officers can speak about it,” he said.

Despite repeated attempts, SP Hazratbal Sudhanshu Verma did not attend phone calls by Kashmir Observer.

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