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Shia Muslims hold azadari in Kashmir amid crackdown

Shia Muslims in Kashmir (IOK) are observing azadari rituals during Moharram despite a tough security clampdown and tensions.

Notably, black banners with messages from the battle of Karbala appear in the summer capital, Srinagar. However, unlike previous years, this year see fewer banners and hoardings (apparently due to month-long curfew).

Factually, India has banned all sorts of gatherings since the abrogation of Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status on August 5, 2019. That curfew and crackdown in the occupied valley has also affected Muslims’ religious and cultural activities, immensely.

However, Shia mourners brought out a small religious procession inside a Shia-dominated district in Srinagar. But Indian forces took action against them too. A police official on the condition of anonymity argued the action based on “precautionary” measures since they had reports regarding religious processions may convert into political rallies.

On the contrary, people accuse the Indian government of violating religious rights of people of Kashmir. Although, Shia Muslims face unjustifiable restrictions, now they are observing closed-door mourning ceremonies in the absence of religious freedom.

Historically, the Moharram processions in Kashmir are as old as the religion of Islam here. Shia as well as Sunni Muslims would participate in these ceremonies as a gesture of unity among Muslims. However, political instability in the region has resulted in restrictions on such religious events.

During the holy month of Muharram, Shia Muslims observe sacred mourning or azadari. They hold mourning congregations and procession on martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the third infallible Imam of Shia Islam.

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