Ban on main Moharram procession completes 21 years
Ashoora observed with Zuljanah, Alam processions in
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Pleading apprehensions of disruption from political elements, vested interests and those having no faith in the Moharram rituals, authorities did not issue permission to the main Ashoora procession that would have, in normal times, initiated at Abi Guzar in Civil Lines area and concluded late tonight at the historic Imambargah of Zadibal.
All J&K Shia Association of the influential Shia spiritual and political leader, Maulvi Iftikhar Hussain Abnsari (currently a Member of Legislative Assembly and senior leader of the principal opposition party, PDP) and Anjuman-e-Sharyee Shia’an of Budgam-based cleric-politician, Aga Syed Hassan (currently a senior leader of separatist Hurriyat Conference, Mirwaiz faction) are the license holders of the main Ashoora procession in Srinagar on a rotation arrangement worked out by then Chief Minister and National Conference founder Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah in 1977.
Authorities have not, however, issued permission to this procession since outbreak of armed insurgency in
Kashmir, in 1989. Over 50,000 Shia mourners used to participate in the Valley’s largest attended Moharram procession while reciting, Nowha, Marsiya (elegies), practicing self-flagellation and many of them spilling their own blood on the streets while striking sharp-edged blades on their bodies. This form of street mourning, remembering the martyrs of Karbala and paying tributes to the martyred descendants of Prophet Mohammad by men of Shia community is still in practice in all other Moharram processions in Jammu and Kashmir, including the regions under ’s control. Pakistan
Separatist leader and prominent Sunni Muslim clergyman, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, has asked his religious followers to gather at an Ashoora congregation to be addressed him at Narwara in defiance of curfew and other restrictions today. Late last evening, Mirwaiz was picked up by Police from his Rajouri Kadal house, alongwith a number of his activists, and detained at his Nageen residence. Mirwaiz and most of his separatist colleagues were forced to stay indoors at their respective residences in different areas of the capital city. Hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who had called for post-afternoon prayer street protests, was similarly put under ‘house arrest’ at his Hyderpora house.
Late last night, authorities had imposed curfew in areas falling under the jurisdiction of seven Police Stations in
to prevent any attempt of taking out the main Ashoora procession from Abi Guzar. Heavy Police and CRPF bandobust today did not allow any civilian movement or attempt of assembling of men without a curfew pass. Reports said that in the evening, followers of Mirwaiz Umar clashed with Police and CRPF at Alam Sahab Narwara. Stone pelting, anti-India and pro-Azadi slogans and retaliation from the forces continued for about an hour. Srinagar
Nevertheless, senior separatist leader and JKLF Chairman, Mohammad Yasin Malik, joined Shia mourners at an Ashoora congregation and rally at Zadibal. Reports said that Malik also addressed the gathering and spoke on significance of the Martyrdom of Karbala. Another separatist leader and President of Anjuman Sharyee Shia’an, Aga Syed Hassan, led a traditional Ashoora procession in Budgam.
, thousands of Shia Muslim mourners participated in the largest Zuljanah procession that came out from Gulshan Bagh, Lalbazar, and passed through different localities of the traditional route before culminating into Majlis-e-Shaam-e-Gareebaan at the revered Shia saint Mir Shamsuddin Araki’s shrine at Zadibal. Under the 1977 agreement, this year’s sponsorship of the main Ashoora procession lay with Aga Syed Hassan’s Anjuman-e-Sharyee Shia’an. Last year, this procession had been organized by Maulvi Iftikhar’s Shia Association. Srinagar
In the forenoon, a relatively thinner Zuljanah procession---that is a post-1989 tradition but without any organisation’s leadership---came out from Sabeelgah Nawab Bagh and ended at Imambara Abul Fazal Abbas, in Baghwanpora area of Lalbazar. Its participants in the afternoon joined the main Zuljanah procession that was on way to Mir Shamsuddin Araki shrine (Zadibal) from Gulshan Bagh.
Kashmir, the largest Zuljanah procession initiated as per a 400-year-old tradition from Imambara of Mirgund and ended at district headquarters of Budgam at around midnight. Thousands of the Shia mourners were still performing traditional Matam (mourning) under sub-zero temperature, with recitation of Nowha, self-flagellation and striking of blades on their bodies at 2330 hours when this report was filed. Officials said that temperature was minus 4 degree Celsius when the procession was about to disperse around midnight.
On occasion of Ashoora, scores of other Zuljanah, Alam and Tazia processions were carried out also in other Shia-population areas of nine of the ten districts in Valley. Shopian happens to be the only district with no Shia concentration.
Earlier, members of Shia community participated in nightlong Marsiya recitation congregations at local Imambaras all over the Valley last night. This evening, Shia clerics addressed Majlis-e-Shaam-e-Gareeban at the culmination of different Zuljanah processions.