Muharram in Kashmir: A photographic analysis

Published: November 5, 2014
Email

Kashmiri Shi'ite Muslim mourners are detained by Indian policemen during a Muharram procession in Srinagar. PHOTO: REUTERS

On Sunday, November 2, 2014, Indian authorities imposed severe restrictions in different parts of Srinagar city and prevented Shia mourners from taking out a Muharram procession from Shaheed Ganj area of the city.

Strict orders, as per section 144 regarding processions, were imposed in areas falling under Kothi Bagh, Shaheed Gunj, Maisuma and Kralkhud police jurisdictions of Srinagar city.

The Shia mourners, however, defied the restrictions and continued to take out processions from various areas. Many mourners were seen striking their chests and reciting Noha and Marsia to pay tribute to the martyrs of Karbala.

This ban on Muharram processions in Kashmir is in place since 1990.

Indian police imposed restrictions in Srinagar, Indian Administered Kashmir to prevent the mourners from taking out the procession. Photo: Haziq Qadri

Indian police imposed restrictions in Srinagar, Indian Administered Kashmir to prevent the mourners from taking out the procession. Photo: Haziq Qadri

Indian police imposed restrictions in Srinagar, Indian Administered Kashmir to prevent the mourners from taking out the procession. Photo: Haziq Qadri

Indian police imposed restrictions in Srinagar, Indian Administered Kashmir to prevent the mourners from taking out the procession. Photo: Twitter (Danysh Qureshi @__qureshi)

Police and CRPF personnel were deployed in large numbers in areas of the city under prohibitory orders to prevent any unlawful activity. Photo: Reuters

Kashmiri Muslim women watch a Muharram procession a day before Ashura in Srinagar November 3, 2014. Photo: Reuters

A Kashmiri Shia Muslim mourner holding a pro Shiite flag. Photo: Haziq Qadri

A Kashmiri Shia Muslim performing matam. Photo: Haziq Qadri

Indian police arrests a Shia mourner who tried to defy restrictions put by the government to prevent the mourners from taking out the procession. Photo: Haziq Qadri

Kashmiri Shiah Muslim mourners shout slogans as Indian policemen wield their batons against them during a Muharram procession in Srinagar, November 2, 2014. Photo: Reuters

Indian police arrests a Shia mourner who tried to defy restrictions put by the government to prevent the mourners from taking out the procession. Photo: Twitter (Kashmir Will Rise @irshadnabi152)

Indian police arrests a Shia mourner who tried to defy restrictions put by the government to prevent the mourners from taking out the procession. Photo: Haziq Qadri

Indian police arrests a Shia mourner who tried to defy restrictions put by the government to prevent the mourners from taking out the procession. Photo: Haziq Qadri

Kashmiri Shia Muslim women watch a Muharram procession marking Ashura from a residential building in Srinagar. Photo: Reuters

Preventing Muharram processions is a form of religious aggression. On the pretext of security concerns, religious rituals should not be disturbed. If religious processions are allowed in a country like Pakistan, where the situation during Muharram has been relatively sensitive over the years, why are they not allowed in Kashmir? The question cannot be answered by the ‘law and order’ theory. Instead, if the government allows it under proper security and guidelines, caging and deserting Srinagar will no longer be required. And this may be a step towards bridging the tense gap between Shia and Sunni Muslims of the valley.

Haziq Qadri

Haziq Qadri

A freelance journalist from Indian Administered Kashmir. He is a contributing journalist with Barcroft Media, London. He tweets @haziq_qadri (twitter.com/haziq_qadri)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.