Shia mourners tear-gassed and detained in Srinagar during Muharram processions

17 August, 2021

On 17 August 2021, the ritual processions that mark the eight day of Muharram witnessed a crackdown in Srinagar, as mourners were tear-gassed and detained at several locations in the city. The Jammu and Kashmir Police also used pellet guns, and a number of journalists covering the procession at Jehangir Chowk were lathicharged.

The processions on the eight day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar year, have been a politically sensitive flashpoint for decades and had been banned over 30 years ago, amid rising violence in the Kashmir Valley. According to media reports, on 1 August this year, the Jammu and Kashmir administration decided to revoke the ban and released a list of processions to be allowed, area-wise.

The decision prompted an outcry, even among Shia leaders, in light of the fact that all other religious gatherings have been disallowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Critics claimed that this was a move by the government to divide Shias and Sunnis in the region. But on 16 August, the Kashmir Observer reported that the district administration again decided to disallow the processions under certain police stations. The inspector general of police, Vijay Kumar, did not respond to calls and messages.