Even as small mourning assemblies progressed smoothly in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shia localities, authorities on Friday disallowed the main ‘Aashura’ procession, imposing curfew in parts of the city.
Srinagar Deputy Commissioner and District Magistrate Farooq Shah told The Hindu that curfew was enforced in certain downtown areas under three police stations “for safety of the 10th Muharram Aashura procession” on the Lalbazar-Zadibal route. He claimed that there were no restrictions elsewhere. The traditional procession on the Abiguzar-Zadibal route was also not allowed “for security-related reasons and apprehensions.”
As per a decades-old tradition, a massive Zuljanah and Alam procession used to start at Abiguzar, near Lalchowk, in the Civil Lines. It was disallowed for the first time when the then Pakistan President and Army chief, General Zia-ul-Haq, died in a plane crash on August 17, 1988, and the authorities insisted that “miscreants” could disrupt the Aashura rally the day after. The main procession has never been allowed in Kashmir since the outbreak of armed strife the next year.
The police on Friday installed barriers to foil possible attempts of some Shia groups to take out the Aashura procession from Abiguzar. However, the restrictions were soon relaxed and free movement was allowed in most parts of the capital city. Curfew remained limited to certain downtown areas where the authorities permitted a smaller procession in Lalbazar-Zadibal, but did not allow outsiders to participate.