World Bulletin/News Desk
The State Government in India occupied Kashmir imposed a curfew in several parts of the capital city, Srinagar, and its surrounding areas to prevent Shia mourners from taking part in their religious procession on the eighth day of Muharram.
Sporadic clashes between mourners and Indian armed forces continued throughout the day in various areas of the city.
Police used tear gar shells to disperse the mourners.
“The restrictions were there only to stop one procession that traditionally used to pass from the Guru Bazar area and then through several Sunni areas and often led to sectarian skirmishes,” Inspector General of Police in Kashmir, Abdul Gani Mir, told The Anadolu Agency.
Mir said that they did not stop any other Shia processions and added that there were no untoward incidents during the day.
Senior police officials, however, told The Anadolu Agency that at several places in the city, there were clashes between Shia protestors and the police, as well as several incidents of stone throwing as well.
In the Batamaloo area of Srinagar, hundreds of young boys and men dressed in black shirts, scarves and bandanas were trying to reach the city center in Lal Chowk, but police intercepted them.
“Police had to use tear gas in that neighborhood, but people threw a lot of stones and we had no choice but to use tear gas to disperse them,” the officer said.
“There were other incidents of skirmishes between police and mourners in several places, but things are under control. More importantly, no sectarian clashes happened anywhere and that was our aim,” he added.
Tens of hundreds of policemen and paramilitary personnel in riot-gear were deployed across the areas of the city under curfew.
Shops and other businesses remained closed, and the streets were bound by concertina coils and barricades to enforce the restrictions.
Every year in the month of Muharram, Shia Muslims mourn the killing of the grandson of the Prophet Mohammad, Hussein ibn Ali, who was killed in the batte of Karbala in the year 680.
The main procession will be on the tenth of Muharram and police sources said that there would be restrictions in certain areas on Tuesday.
The Muharram processions, which used to be allowed in the valley until a popular armed uprising began in 1989, were stopped by the government when they put a ban on all public gatherings -- fearing that they might turn into anti-India rallies.
But the government say that they only ban processions to prevent sectarian clashes.
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full.
The two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – since they were partitioned in 1947, two of which were fought over Kashmir.
Since 1989, Kashmiri resistance groups in Indian-held Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
More than 70,000 people have reportedly been killed in the conflict so far.
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