Muharram banned in UP, clerics object to word 'festival' in police chief letter
The clerics in Uttar Pradesh have objected to a circular released by the state government banning Muharram. The clerics have expressed dismay over the word 'festival' used to describe the event.
The Uttar Pradesh government has banned Muharram in view of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) protocols in place. In a "confidential and very important" letter sent to Suprintendents of Police (SPs), Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) Mukul Goel has directed that Muharram must be bserved in the state in accordance with Covid-appropriate behaviour.
No procession (called tazia) is allowed to be taken out during the 10 days - from August 10 to 19 - when Muharram will be observed. Goel has also directed that clerics must be involved to ensure Covid-19 guidelines are followed.
Terming the situation during this period as "extremely sensitive", the DGP has asked to study areas where incidents have taken place during Muharram and take special measures to keep things normal. Additional police force must be deployed in sensitive areas, the police chief further said.
He has also directed the all the entries in festival registers available in various police stations must be studied, and no permission for a separate route should be granted.
All the police officers must be briefed one day before the festival of Muharram begins, the DGP said in his letter, asking strict monitoring of content on social media. Such content must be blocked, he has directed the police officials.
The clerics, meanwhile, have objected to the use of the word 'festival' for Muharram as it is a period of mourning for the Muslims over the demise of Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussain Ibn Ali or Imam Hussain in the battle of Karbala.
Demanding that the guidelines be withdrawn, the All India Shia Personal Law Board has called for a meeting on Monday to discuss the issue.