Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has come under sharp attack from the opposition parties for attending Dushehra function in Srinagar on Thursday, unaware that a Muharram procession was disrupted by police coercively at the same time. CM Mufti also faced criticism from the Shia community, which has traditionally supported his People’s Democratic Party.
A senior Shia leader told this newspaper that Mufti should not have stopped the Muharram procession. “We were severely beaten up and hundreds of our youth were arrested. Mufti, on the other hand, was enjoying Dussehra celebrations in Polo Ground of Srinagar,” the Shia leader said.
The Jammu and Kashmir government has not been allowing Muharram processions to pass through main Srinagar city since 1990 fearing that the occasion can be used by the separatists to agitate against the government. However, religious processions on Muharram are allowed in the outskirts of Srinagar. Shia community is seething with anger as they had even approached J&K Governor Narinder Nath Vohra to allow them to take out the procession in Srinagar.
Curfew remained in force in many parts of Srinagar on Saturday for the second consecutive day. On Friday police had arrested dozens of Hurriyat leaders and kept separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq uder house arrest. Mirwaiz had planned a joint separatist protest on Friday at Jamia Masjid Srinagar but the authorities clamped a curfew. Dozens of policemen sustained injuries in clashes with the youth and women at various places in south Kashmir on Friday. At Shopian, thousands of people attended the funeral of slain hizb militants in police firing.
After five days of curfew, southern districts of Anantnag and Pulwama witnessed calm as the authorities lifted the curfew on Saturday. Northern Railways, which had suspended its services following protests in South Kashmir, resumed its rail service from Baramullah to Banihal.