Curbs imposed in Srinagar on Muharram processions
Police and CRPF installed barricades, laid concertina wires on major city roads; few groups of youth detained
Restrictions were imposed in major parts of Srinagar city on Sunday to stop mourning processions by Shia Muslims on the eighth day of month of Muharram with authorities saying they feared deterioration of law and order situation. People also complained that mobile internet services were suspended in the city.
The police and CRPF installed barricades, laid concertina wires on major city roads and were deployed in large numbers at city centre Lal Chowk, Maisuma, Maulana Azad Road and Dalgate as well in Old City areas to thwart any attempts by people to assemble.
Shops and businesses were closed in the areas where curbs were clamped while no vehicles, except emergency ones, were allowed by the authorities to ply on roads.
“Strict curbs were in force in the city, causing a lot of problems to the people, particularly employees and the sick,” Waseem Ahmad, a resident, said. “I decided to stay put at home rather than leave for work.”
Netizens were also aghast. “Three roads leading to our home have been blocked by police. We have a function going on there. Every 20 minutes, I’ve to go and plead with the cop stationed at one of the barricades to allow the supplies,” said Rouf Bhat, a resident of Nowgam.
Small groups of youth, meanwhile, tried to march on roads in Jehangir Chowk and Batamaloo areas but were detained by police.
Traditionally, a procession would be taken out from Guru Bazaar to Dalgate area of the city on this day before militancy erupted in the Valley in 1989. Since the 90s, the authorities have not allowed any such procession.
“The day passed peacefully than it used to in the previous years. No force was used, neither tear gas nor batons, as there was no procession. Restrictions under Section 144 of the CrPC were imposed in areas falling under eight police stations,” said Srinagar senior superintendent of police Rakesh Balawal.
“A few youths came out on roads in Jehangir Chowk and Batamaloo whom we have detained. By evening, they will be let off after counselling,” he added.
Many Muslims would take out mourning processions on select routes in Srinagar on eight and tenth day of the month before the 90s; however they have been banned since militancy erupted in the state.
The district magistrate had on Saturday issued an order stating that Muharram processions on Guru Bazaar towards Buchwara and Abi Guzar towards Zadibal routes will not be allowed keeping in view public security and law and order.