Police fire pellet guns on Kashmir Muharram procession

August 31, 2020 - 11:40

At least 40 Shia mourners in the Indian-controlled Kashmir were injured on Saturday when government forces used batons, burst tear smoke shells and fired pellets to break up mourning processions on the ninth day of Islamic month of Muharram.

During the police crackdown in Srinagar, several youths were detained and many, including women were allegedly “thrashed” by the forces.

Jafar Ali, a witness, told AFP the procession started in the Bemina area on the outskirts of Srinagar, and was soon joined by hundreds of Shia mourners.

Witnesses told Kashmir Observer that a huge number of policemen intercepted the mourners who were chanting “Labaik Ya Hussain” and “Hussainiyat Zindabad”.

“When the mourners showed resistance and tried to march towards their destination (Imam Bargah), the cops resorted to baton and fired teargas canisters to disperse them,” Mohammad Ali, an eyewitness told Kashmir Observer.

Ali said the situation took an ugly turn when cops fired at the mourners with pellet guns, leaving many injured.

“The police action angered the mourners. They started chanting pro-freedom and anti-India slogans and engaged the cops in pitched battles.”

He said nearly six mourners were also taken into custody by the police and taken to the nearby police post.

“The mourners in the procession were adhering to social distancing norms and were wearing masks as well. I fail to understand why police used force against a peaceful procession,” Kifayat Hussain, a local said.

He said the procession would have concluded peacefully if the police had not used ‘brute force’ to disperse the mourners. He also alleged that police also thrashed many women and children while breaking up the procession.

"The procession was not just peaceful but was also following health protocols," said Sajjad Hussain, a witness. "They [government forces] unleashed such violence and did not spare even women mourners."

According to the witnesses, the clashes in the area continued till late evening leaving around 40 people injured, five of them with serious pellet wounds in the face and eyes. The injured were removed to the nearby Imam Hussain (AS) hospital for treatment.

Medical workers told The Associated Press they treated at least 30 people, some of them with pellet and tear gas injuries.

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