//Indian police break up religious processions in Kashmir

Indian police break up religious processions in Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India – Indian police on Tuesday fired teargas canisters and used bamboo canes to break up banned religious processions by Shiite Muslims in restive Kashmir, witnesses said.Several people were injured and more than 50 were arrested on charges of violating prohibitory orders in force in Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian-administered Kashmir, police and hospital sources said.
The processions, which commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed in the battle of Karbala some 14 centuries ago, have been banned in Indian-administered Kashmir since the outbreak in 1989 of an anti-Indian insurgency.Only small mourning rallies and processions are allowed in select areas with sizeable Shiite populations, leading to annual friction between police and devotees.Shiite Muslims throughout the world stage processions and hold rallies during Muharram, the first month of the Islamic Hijra calendar, to mark the anniversary of Hussein’s death.The clergy and local political groups in Indian Kashmir have termed the restrictions as “unwarranted interference in our religious matters”.
The authorities say the emotional religious rituals could be used by separatists to stoke the crowds and give vent their feelings.Moulvi Abbas Ansari, a prominent Shiite cleric and former chairman of the Hurriyat Conference, an umbrella body of separatist groups, told AFP that he was placed under house arrest Monday evening to prevent him from joining the mourners.The main Muharram mourning processions are scheduled for Thursday, the 10th day of Muharram.