Mumbai: Seeking to strike a fine balance between religious rituals and safety measures, the Bombay High Court today asked the city police to ensure that no minor carries sharp weapons and hurt themselves during the annual Muharram procession. A bench of justices R M Savant and Sadhana Jadhav gave the direction to the police while examining the issue suo moto (on its own), based on a December 2014 police circular, dealing with the safety measures for minors during the ritual. The circular mandated senior police officials of various police stations to hold meetings with Mohalla Committees prior to Muharram to ensure that children do not participate in the ritual, they use no sharp weapons in the procession and the entire procession be video-graphed.
The police today told the court that they had held a meeting with several community leaders who gave an undertaking that children would not use or carry weapons and sharp objects during the procession and that they would not hurt themselves. “Minors taking part in the Muharram procession shall not be forced to injure themselves. Minors will not be allowed to inflict injuries on themselves and no one else would be permitted to injure the minors. The procession will be video- graphed,” said a report submitted by Additional Commissioner of Police (South region) Pravin Padval.
The court after perusing the report asked the organisers of the procession to give an undertaking that the conditions imposed by the police would be complied with.
“We care about religions and its practises but we also want compliance of the conditions imposed. A fine balance has to be drawn on the practises and safety of children,” the court said.
The bench has directed the additional commissioner of police (South) to personally supervise the procession to be held in south Mumbai in September and ensure that the conditions are complied with. Muharram marks the anniversary of the battle of Karbala in which Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, was killed. To mourn his killing, participants flagellate themselves with sharp objects.