Zafar Mehdi

From Kafila, “Sinister designs behind Muharram ban in Kashmir

“The peaceful processions on 8 and 10 Muharram have been banned in Kashmir since the outbreak of insurgency in 1989. Small mourning rallies and processions are allowed in select areas with sizeable Shia populations. The state authorities say that “emotional religious rituals” could be used by separatists to stoke the anti-India sentiments. Absolutely preposterous. It is like diallowing Guru Purab or Baisakhi in Punjab as Khalistanis might use it to stoke anti-India feelings. The government cannot deny the people their right to peacefully observe religious rituals just because a few senior Shia clerics happen to be heavyweight separatist leaders (Maulana Abbas Ansari is former chairman of Hurriyat Conference and Aga Hasan Mosavi, president of the J&K Anjuman Sharee Shiaan, is an executive member of the Hurriyat Conference. It indeed needs to be highlighted that Tehreek is not a Sunni thing only but Shias play equally catalytic role in it n perhaps thats why State fails to distinguish between Azadi and Azadari processions!

The argument that these processions provoke Sunnis, who may get all riled up and attack Shias, is laughable. There have never been riots in Kashmir between any two communities, so how can the state justify banning Shia processions to prevent riots? I wonder why Ripley’s Believe It Or Not missed it. It is not secret how these processions have become inclusive over the years, with the participation of Sunnis and even Sikhs and Pandits. The Sunnis, in a demographic majority, have been extremely accommodating towards the Shia minority, and both communities have co-existed in harmony and amity for centuries.  In turn, both Shias and Sunnis go out of their way in extending their support to rallies and processions taken out by non-Muslims. In the context of Kashmir, communal riots are out of question.

The truth is that the state is hell-bent on creating fissures among Kashmiri Muslims on sectarian lines. By provoking Shias against Sunnis, and giving this Muharram ban a sectarian and separatist colour, they want to achieve their sinister targets. They hope that the disintegration of Muslims in Kashmir will be a fatal blow to the Tehreek, the movement and that is what these scheming rulers gun for.”



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