J&K Govt Maintains Ban On 2 Major Muharram Processions

A Muharram procession in Srinagar on Saturday | KO Photo by Abid Bhat

‘Rerouted To Avoid Clashes, Prevent Secessionist Network From Hijacking It’

Srinagar- The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Saturday announced to continue the ban imposed on the traditional 8th Muharram procession through city centre in the larger public interest and to foil attempts of numerous groups “to hijack the processions to advance their objectives”

In an order issued here, the District Magistrate Srinagar, Mohammad Aijaz Asad said that the decision not to allow the Muharram procession has been taken in a “larger public interest” and taking into account, among others, intelligence reports.

Earlier on Wednesday, the J&K and Ladakh High Court asked the government to take a call on Muharram procession from Guru Bazar to Dalgate here, observing that it’s the “domain of the administration, security agencies and other stakeholders to take a call on it.”

A Shia trust had filed a Public Interest Litigation, seeking direction upon the State authorities to allow the Shia Community to take out the religious processions especially on the August 8th from Guru Bazar to Dalgate. The Trust had also sought directions to provide necessary security for the procession.

While responding to the writ petition, the District Magistrate Srinagar noted that in compliance to the Court communication, inputs were received from various law enforcement agencies, including the Super Superintendent of Police, (SSP) Srinagar regarding the Muharram procession on two particular routes.

The response from the DM reads that the intelligence inputs suggest that there have been clashes among the two communities which have resulted in breach of peace and threat to maintenance of law and order and also resulted in damage to public property and injuries to civilians and security forces as well.

“That it is witnessed from past instances/cases and upon analysis of reports/data with regard to incidents which have occurred during the Muharram, it is evident that not only there has been breach in peace & law and order,” read the inputs shared by SSP Srinagar with the District Magistrate.

According to the DM, the inputs suggested that the “anti-national elements” are making every effort to exploit the situation for their “vested interest”, resulting in law and order situations.

“Number of cases registered on this behalf reveal that during the past there have been incidents of violence during Muharram,” the order copy reads.

“According to the police, the same is corroborated by reference to latest FIR No’s 114/2021, 62/2021, 63/2021 87/2021, 39/2019, 87/2018 as such,” it adds.

The reports to DM from the intelligence agencies also suggested that there are “numerous groups” have attempted to hijack the processions to “advance their objectives”

“.. And the indication came from within the Shia Community at different times thereby disallowing the processions for the last 32 years on certain routes,” the order reads.

It further adds that the Muharram procession on the routes mentioned in writ petition in Srinagar has not been curbed but rerouted to avoid inter community clashes and also to prevent the “secessionist network from hijacking it.”

“In the Srinagar city Muharram procession from Lal Bazar to Zadibal has not been curbed since 1990 and is facilitated by the District Administration by way of providing alternative routes backed by elaborate administrative and security support system,” the inputs from the intelligence agencies provided to DM reads.

The DM thus notes that in view of the circumstances, in conjunction with the reports of intelligence agencies thereof, more particularly the security concerns of the District Srinagar with respect to the Muharram, the processions therein cannot be allowed on the Gurubazar toward Buchwara (Dalgate) and Abi-Guzar towards Zadibal routes respectively, keeping in mind the public interest, law & order and security.

“Law & order and Security concern of the Union Territory is the top most priority of the Govt. of the Jammu and Kashmir keeping into view the larger public interest and safety of its citizens,” the District Magistrate said.

Ashura that marks the martyrdom anniversary of Prophet Muhammad’s family in the deserts of Karbala nearly 1400 years ago is commemorated for ten days of Muharram month annually by Shia Muslims throughout the world.

In Kashmir Valley, the Shia Muslims used to take out two major processions on 8th and 10th Muharram culminating at Dalgate and the historic Zadibal Imambargah respectively. The 8th Muharram procession would commence from Gurubazar and pass through Jehangir Chowk, Maulana Azad Road and later culminate in the evening at Dalgate Imambargah. Ashura procession would start at Abi Guzar near Lal Chowk and pass through Maisuma and old city culminating at Zadibal at night.

However, after the onset of militancy, these two major processions were banned by the government.

8th Muharram procession was led by Ittehadul Muslimeen patron Maulana Abbas Ansari while Ashura procession was led alternately by Shia Association and Anjuman Sharie Shiayan.

Police Issues Advisory

Meanwhile the Jammu and Kashmir police on Saturday urged people to respect the law and endorse rumors of 8th Muharram procession from Guru Bazar to Dalgate that has been banned by the district administration.

In a statement issued here, a police spokesperson said that tomorrow’s Muharram procession from Guru Bazar to Dalgate has not been allowed this year as well.

“General public is requested to respect rule of law and don’t appreciate/endorse any rumour of Procession rally,” he said.

The police advisory came at a time when the district administration announced a continuous ban on the traditional 8th and 10th Muharram processions through the heart of this capital city.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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