SRINAGAR, India – Police on Sunday arrested dozens of people in Indian-controlled Kashmir as they dispersed Shiite Muslims trying to take part in processions marking the Muslim month of Muharram.
Many Muslims defied severe security restrictions in parts of the main city of Srinagar and took to the streets chanting religious slogans. The restrictions include a ban on Shiite religious processions.
Muharram is one of the holiest months for Shiites around the world and includes large processions of mourners pounding their chests while chanting and chanting slogans to mourn the death of Hussein, the family’s grandson. Prophet Muhammad and 72 companions during the battle of Karbala in present-day Iraq.
The Sunday procession marks the eighth day of Muharram, two days before its peak on Ashura.
In 2020, dozens of people were injured when Indian forces fired shotgun shells and tear gas to disperse the procession.
Some of Muharram’s main processions have been banned in Indian-controlled Kashmir since an armed uprising broke out in 1989 demanding the region’s independence from India or its merger with neighboring Pakistan. . Tens of thousands of civilians, rebels and government forces have been killed in the conflict.
Kashmiri Muslims have long complained that the government is restricting their religious freedom under the pretext of maintaining law and order while promoting an annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Himalayan Amarnath Temple in Kashmir attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists.
The ongoing Hindu pilgrimage has drawn hundreds of thousands of visitors from across India amid massive security with tens of thousands of soldiers guarding the routes leading to the cave temple.