As the month of Muharram approaches, Shia Muslims in Indian-controlled-Kashmir are intensifying their campaign to demand the lifting of a ban on religious processions. The ban has been in place for more than two decades now, and forbids the Shias from holding mourning ceremonies on the 9th and 10th days of Muharram.
The Shias have termed the ban as a blatant breach of religious freedom, and urged the international community to take action in this regard.
The ban on peaceful Muharram processions in Kashmir is regarded as the flagrant violation of the most fundamental human rights. Even after more than two decades, the ban remains in place and the people continue to defy it every year.
Others have labeled the ban as gross discrimination by the state authorities.
Indian authorities say the processions stoke anti-India sentiments and pose security threats. They also say the ceremonies must have prior permission. But, people in Kashmir say the ban continues, even if they get the permission.
Shia mourners have in the past defied the ban on Muharram ceremonies — a move that got police action in response.
With around 1.5 million population, Shias constitute 10 percent of the total population in Jammu and Kashmir — thatâ€™s India’s only Muslim-majority state.