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Muharram restrictions lead to violence in Kashmir as mourners clash with police, many injured

Srinagar officials claim at least 200-250 Shia mourners, looking to take out Muharram processions, were left injured. Police says they fired pellet guns in response to stone-pelting.

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Srinagar: Violence rocked Kashmir valley once again Sunday, the last day of the 10-day Muharram mourning period, as clashes between security forces and Shia Muslims attempting to take out processions to mark the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, were reported from several areas.

Locals officials in Srinagar’s Zadibal locality claimed that at least 200-250 Shia mourners were left injured in the clashes, with most of them sustaining pellet wounds.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police, however, said 30-40 of its personnel were also injured in the clashes. The clashes were still going on in several parts of Srinagar at the time of filing this report.

“We were requesting people to follow the protocols but they didn’t listen. Instead, they threw stones and left at least 30-40 police personnel injured,” a senior police officer said. “There were at least 12 violent incidents but the situation is being brought under control. We have also made some detentions today.”

Locals said the injured opted for “home treatment” fearing government reprisals, essentially leaving them to extract the pellets without medical assistance.

Authorities at Shri Maharaja Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital, where most pellet victims in Kashmir are treated at the ophthalmology ward, said only a total of seven persons had been brought in for treatment since Saturday evening.

Medical Superintendent, SMHS Hospital, Dr Nazir Choudhary, told ThePrint that three of the seven have been discharged.

Officials in the J&K administration, however, said an unspecified number of patients were being treated at different hospitals of Srinagar. They said some critically injured patients were admitted to the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Media Science (SKIMS).

One of the policemen injured in the clashes Sunday | By special arrangement
One of the policemen injured in the clashes Sunday | By special arrangement

‘Police firing without provocation’

Speaking to ThePrint, pellet victims and their families accused the police of firing pellets and tear gas shells “despite there being no provocation”.

“It was a peaceful procession and there was no provocation. We were just moving ahead when the police hit us first with tear gas smoke shells and then pellets,” said Suhail Abbas (19), who received 40 pellets in his face, neck and arms.

“I underwent a surgery in the morning and doctors have told me that a burst vein in my eye has to heal first before I can have further surgeries,” said Abbas, who is being treated at the SMHS.

Doctors at SMHS said one of his eyes has suffered severe damage.

Nazir Ahmed, the father of 15-year-old Tanveer Ahmed whose photograph went viral triggering social media debates, said security forces left his injured son on the streets.

“Someone took him to the Bemina hospital first from where he was referred to SMHS,” said Ahmed, a shopkeeper. “He has undergone one surgery but he has several pellets in both his eyes and that are yet to be extracted.”

Tanveer was studying in a school at Aligarh and had returned home in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “I had sent my son away from all the violence, and the moment he returned, this happened. Doctors will tell us in the morning about the fate of his eyesight,” Ahmed added.

Family members of a youth from Zadibal being treated at SMHS said they had to bring the patient by boat as all the exits were barricaded. “Ambulances were also not allowed to move,” said the youth, who did not want to be named.

Fifteen-year-old Tanveer Ahmed whose picture went viral polarising social media debates | Photo: Azaan Javaid | ThePrint
Fifteen-year-old Tanveer Ahmed whose picture went viral on social media | Photo: Azaan Javaid | ThePrint

Second day of clashes

This was the second of clashes as Saturday, which marked the 9th day of Muharram, also saw violence in Bemina area of Srinagar, which left over 30 people injured.

Parts of the Valley, particularly the Shia-dominated localities, woke up to strict restrictions Sunday morning, with both police paramilitaries being deployed massively to prevent the processions.

Residents of Zadibal area said their locality had been put under siege with security forces manning all entry and exit points.

Police teams were seen making routine rounds of the area Sunday asking people to stay indoors. This led to heated exchanges, which culminated into massive clashes by Sunday afternoon.

The Anjuman-e-Sharie (a Shia organisation) made announcements in the area asking people not to take out any processions, but the young residents decided to go ahead with their plans.

“All around the country, religious processions are being allowed but it is only in Kashmir that carrying out religious duties results in vicious punishment,” Tanveer Pathan, the Zadibal councillor, told ThePrint. “At least 200-250 people have received injuries and most of them are wounded by pellet guns. The storm that hit Kashmiri people last August seems to have no end.”

Tabish, another Zadibal resident, said hundreds had been left injured despite the mourners following all social distancing norms. “We have been told that the restrictions are due to Covid-19 but we were following all social distancing norms and yet they resorted to violence,” he said. “Hundreds have been left injured and are being treated by locals who are extracting the pellets using disinfectants.”

Also read: Frequent internet ban is like digital apartheid, isolates Kashmiris from world — rights group

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  1. Ethnic cleansing of HINDUS in Kashmir have made jihadist in Kashmir believe that INDIA is a weak state.

    We need to allow people to settle in Kashmir of all faiths to ensure kashmiris are given to know how good life can be without radicalisation

    They should be encouraged to be much less religious in daily life and focus on education.

    We must encourage kashmiris to be part of INDIA’s multi religious society.

  2. Good job Kashmir Police, law has to be followed, being a majority in a state doesn’t give any particular community to act as per its wishes. Law is same for all.

    • What do you mean good job? Teenagers have been injured, at least one reportedly lost vision, public terrified. It’s right that law is to be followed, but it is also true that law wasn’t perfectly followed in rest of the country as well. Was there pellet or tear gas firing in rest of country? Didn’t we condemn even beating with bare hands of rickshaw walas and street hawkers? Then how is it a good job done when in Kashmir? If a section or group of people does not follow certain rules, we have to make them understand and aware about the rules rather than resorting to firing. Take the example of open defecation and how many diseases it can spread, did anyone go about beating or firing upon those who were shitting outside? We had a full fledged campaign to make people aware about it and even provided the, monetary help to build toilets. Our policies are discriminatory towards Kashmiri Muslims and we treat them as a brainwashed uneducated mob. It is high time we recognise this disconnect between Kashmir and rest of the country, because only then can we bridge that gap and make harmony among people, we might even be able to resettle Kashmiri pandits safely back into Kashmir. A nation is made by its people, not just the land.

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