Restrictions in Indian-controlled Kashmir capital to stop religious procession

2012-11-23 10:47:39 GMT2012-11-23 18:47:39(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- Authorities Friday imposed strict restrictions in most parts of Srinagar city, the summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir to prevent religious procession of the Shiite Muslims on the occasion of 8th of Muharram, officials said. "Restrictions were put in place as a precautionary measure in various parts of the city to maintain peace," said a senior government official.

Hundreds of policemen and paramilitary troopers of India's Central Reserve Police Force in full riot gears were deployed in the sensitive localities of the city including Lal Chowk (red square) to enforce restrictions and restrict the movement of civilians. The government forces had laid coils of concertina and barricades to restrict movement of vehicular traffic.

Every year Shia Muslims in the month of Muharram ((first month of Islamic calendar) across the world mourn the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammad. Hussein as per Islamic scholars achieved martyrdom in the Iraqi city of Karbala in the year 680.

Though main procession is scheduled to be taken out on Sunday ( 10th of Muharram), Shiite Muslims in the region start taking out processions from 8th of Muharram.

However, in Indian-controlled Kashmir, the authorities have put a ban on Muharram processions in main city after an insurgency against Indian rule broke out in 1989. The officials cite security reasons to disallow the procession and often fear turning of religious procession into pro-freedom and anti-India one. Anti- India sentiment runs deep in the psyche of majority of Kashmiris.

Officials had also put in place the prohibitory orders under Section 144 (government order) in the city. The order prohibits assembly of more than four persons in public place.

The curfew restrictions have paralyzed business activities and work in offices in the city center.

The region's hardline separatist leader Syed Ali Geelani had called people to stage anti-Israeli protests after Friday congregational afternoon prayers to protest the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and killing of over 160 Palestinians.

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