Indian police and paramilitary troops have clashed with Kashmiri mourners marking the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, the third Shia imam, in the disputed Himalayan valley.
Fierce clashes erupted on Thursday when Indian forces fired tear gas canisters and began beating the Shia mourners with batons to disperse them in Srinagar, the main city and also summer capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir.
Police also detained more than a dozen mourners in the Muslim-majority region.
Kashmiri Shia Muslims have defied restrictions to participate in the procession to mark the lunar month of Muharram, the 10th day of which, known as Ashura, marks the anniversary of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein, Prophet Mohammad’s grandson.
“We want to keep alive the spirit of Husseiniat (the mission of Imam Hussein). That’s why the government here doesn’t allow us (to take part in the procession). We will keep the Husseiniat alive,” a prominent Kashmiri devotee at the religious rally said.
The mourners also chanted religious slogans against injustice and brutality.
New Delhi authorities have banned large gatherings marking Muharram to prevent them from turning into anti-India protests.
However, human rights groups and religious organizations have strongly denounced the Indian government over banning gatherings during Muharram, saying the move violates religious and social freedom.