On Saturday night, as people in Srinagar marked Muharram with a procession, over a dozen were injured in an altercation with the police. Reportedly, the mourners had flouted a ban on mass rallies, processions or congregations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The violent altercation took place in Srinagar’s Bemina area. The police fired tear gas and shot pellets to disperse the tazia procession.
While the police say that only "mild force was used" in a few places after locals took out processions, refusing to listen to the entreaties of officials, a Deccan Chronicle report quotes hospital sources and witnesses to say that out of the 12 who were hit by pellets, one was critical. The individual had received multiple pellet wounds to the face.
An Associated Press news report however puts the number of those injured at being much higher, reporting that medics at one hospital saying that they had treated at least 30 people, even as others were taken to another hospital.
"The procession was not just peaceful but was also following health protocols, They (government forces) unleashed such violence and did not spare even women mourners," the report quotes Sajjad Hussain, an eyewitness as saying. Videos indicate that the police in armed vehicles had warned the mourners urging them to disperse before firing.
Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar. Ashura, the 10th day of the month is also an occasion of grief for Muslims as they mourn the death of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad along more than 70 of his followers at the battle of Karbala that took place in the year in the year 61 AH (680 CE).
Following the incident, many have taken to social media, sharing pictures of those who have been injured and speaking out against the same.