by Muslim Mirror Staff
On Wednesday, the Jammu and Kashmir administration decided to permit the 8th Muharram procession in the heart of Srinagar on Thursday. This marks a noteworthy development as the procession had been prohibited for over thirty years. However, it’s worth noting that the administration has imposed a specific time window for the procession.
“The permission is hereby granted…for taking out Muharram procession on 8th Muharram-1445 from Guru Bazar to Dalgate via Budshah Kadal and M.A Road, Srinagar, from 6 am to 8 am on 27th July, 2023,” according to an order issued Wednesday evening by Deputy Commissioner, Srinagar, Ajaz Asad.
“The time window has been finalised in the larger public interest as the procession route encompasses massive business/commercial establishments, movement of ambulances, students, office staff, general passengers, etc,” the order stated.
The decision to allow the 8th Muharram procession in Srinagar after a ban of more than three decades holds significant importance, especially considering that the government perceived processionists as having sympathies towards the separatist movement. The initial ban was enforced during the onset of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir in 1990.
In their order issued on Wednesday, the administration laid down specific guidelines for the procession. They explicitly instructed the participants not to engage in any speeches, slogans, or propaganda that could be considered anti-national or anti-establishment in nature.
The order also emphasized that no activities should take place during the procession that could pose a threat to the security and sovereignty of the State. Additionally, the administration insisted that all participants must show respect to national symbols and emblems during the event.
The order stated: “They (processionists) shall not hoist any flag depicting provocative slogans/text and/or photos of terror outfits, logos of banned organisations at both national and international level. Activities of the participants attending the procession should remain strictly confined to the programme only. They shall cooperate with local police and other security agencies as desired by them in the public interest.”
Traditionally, two significant processions were organized by Shia mourners in the Valley. The first procession took place on the 8th of Muharram and started from the Shaheed Gunj area, passing through the city center Lalchowk, and concluding at the Dalgate neighbourhood in Srinagar. The second procession occurred on the 10th of Muharram and passed through Shia-dominated areas of the city.
While the administration allows the 10th Muharram procession, the 8th Muharram processions were banned. These 8th Muharram processions were previously organized by Ittihadul Muslimeen, a part of the separatist conglomerate Hurriyat Conference, and they witnessed significant participation from Sunni individuals as well.
Despite the ban, Shia mourners persisted in defying the restrictions and continued to carry out a procession from Guru Bazar each year, although police would disperse the gathering.