Police arrest 100 mourners, resort to lathicharge

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Srinagar, Jan 18 (UNI) About 100 mourners were today arrested when they tried to take out Muharram processions from different areas in the civil lines here, official sources said.

Police lobbed teargas shells and resorted to baton charge to disperse mourners, who gave slip to the police and reached Dalgate, despite a ban on Muharram processions since 1989.

More than a dozen mourners, including son of Moulana Abbas Ansari, senior Hurriyat Conference (Mirwaiz) leader, were injured in the police action.

Later, a group of women staged a dharna at Dalgate main chowk for some time before dispersing peacefully.

The Intihad-ul-Muslimeen (IuM) has already filed a petition in the Jammu and Kashmir high court challenging the ban on Muharram processions in the city, calling it a violation of their fundamental rights.

The High Court issued a notice to the authorities seeking objections on the petition within two weeks but it did not say anything about processions being taken out today and on January 20 (8th and 10th day of Muharram month).

As Shia Muslims started a procession from Exchange road near here this afternoon, the police swung into action and arrested about 20 mourners. Later, 80 more were taken into custody on Moulana Azad road and other palces in the city.

Similar attempts by Shia were prevented by the police, who have been deployed in strength at different places, particularly the routes being used by mourners to reach Dalgate Imambara.

A large number of police personnel have been deployed at Dalgate and its adjoining areas since early this morning to prevent shia mourners to enter the area.

The Shia sect of Muslims were taking out processions on the 8th and 10th day of Muharram month through different routes before concluding at Imambada Zadibal and Khushalsar.

However, to avoid any untoward incident during the procession, it was decided on the request of the then Chief Minister Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1977 that Muharram processions would be taken out from Abi Guzar to Zadibal through the old city.

Though no ban orders were given to organisers of these processions, the police used forced to prevent the mourners from taking out such processions at Abi-Gazar, Gurubazar and Dalgate.

However, in other Shia dominated areas, including central Kashmir district of Badgam and down town Srinagar, thousands of mourners join Muharram processions despite snow and rains since early this morning.

The authorities have made all arrangements, including medical, electricity and drinking water for the mourners.

UNI BAS ASM MS BD1736

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