Muharram procession: Tension in Kashmir | india | Hindustan Times
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Muharram procession: Tension in Kashmir

india Updated: Dec 06, 2011 21:12 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Tension prevailed in Kashmir valley for the third consecutive day on Tuesday in the wake of Shia Muslims' scheduled religious procession in various parts of the valley.

The authorities fearing trouble overturned its direction to avoid restriction on movement of people. Srinagar deputy commissioner Meraj Ahmad Kakroo had assured on Monday evening that there will be no curfew. "People are free to move where they want," said Kakroo.

However, the authorities erected barricades in and arounds Srinagar's city downtown areas and uptown Lal Chowk areas to keep protesters at bay.

In the morning, hundreds of policemen and CRPF personnel manned sensitive locations like Hawal, Nowhatta, Gojwara, Lal Bazaar, Zadibal, Khanyar and Rainawari in downtown Srinagar and Lal Chowk, Maisuma, Abi Guzar in uptown. Most streets were closed with concertina wires and were sourrounded by security forces in riot gear chasing away people trying to assemble in lanes.

Most shops and private business centres were closed for the day and very thin traffic plied the streets.

Residents of Maisuma, Lal Chowk, Gojwara and Rajouri Kadal told the Hindustan Times that there were restrictions on movement of vehicles. Streets in downtown Srinagar wore a deserted look in the backdrop of stringent security arrangements.

The security forces were also deployed outside separatists leaders' offices. "The Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front office was encircled by forces. We condemn the police action and arrests of Shia leaders," said JKLF faction's chief Javeed Mir. Moderate and hardline Hurriyat factions led by Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Syed Ali Shah Geelani also flayed the administration for turning Srinagar into a "garrison on Ashura", 10th of first month of Muharram when grandsons of Prophet Muhammad were martyred 1331 years ago.

Clashes broke out in downtown Srinagar when protesters tried to breach security restriction and started pelting stones at policemen. Police fired tear gas shells to wrest streets from protesters. Clashes continued for several hours even in the evening near Nowhatta and Gojwara.

"Restrictions have been imposed in several areas to prevent anti-social elements from creating trouble in the city. All Shia procession were taken out peaceful in districts except some clashes in Sunni areas in downtown," said a police officer on the condition of anonymity.

Peaceful processions were, however, held at Zadibal, Hasnabad and Lal Bazaar where thousands of Shia mourners, beating their chests, paid tributes to the martyrs. The government provided medical and other essential services to ensure smooth processions in Shia-dominated areas.