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Historic Muharram procession allowed in Kashmir after three decades

The procession had been banned since 1989 when the popular rebellion against New Delhi's rule started in the Kashmir Valley.

Srinagar, 27 July, 2023 (GNP): In a momentous development, thousands of Shia Muslims in Indian-administered Kashmir participated in a Muharram procession to commemorate the eighth day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

Dressed in traditional black attire, the mourners marched through the heart of the region’s main city, Srinagar, on Thursday morning. This marked the first time in 34 years that the procession was held, signifying a significant step in the restoration of cultural and religious traditions.

Muharram, one of Islam’s holiest months, holds deep significance for Muslims worldwide as they mourn the martyrdom of Husayn Ibn Ali al-Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, who sacrificed his life at the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD.

The procession, which had been banned since 1989 amidst the popular rebellion in the Kashmir Valley, was finally permitted by the authorities, marking a crucial shift in the region’s dynamics.

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The Himalayan region of Kashmir, claimed by both India and Pakistan, has witnessed decades of conflict and unrest, with civilians bearing the brunt of the situation.

In light of the recent developments, the region’s police emphasized their commitment to a peaceful and prosperous future for the disputed region.

However, some Shia leaders expressed reservations about the restoration, viewing it as an attempt to project normalcy while curbing freedom of expression and other rights.

Indian authorities have asked the processionists to adhere to certain conditions, including refraining from engaging in anti-national or anti-establishment activities and respecting national symbols and emblems. The event’s organizers were encouraged to ensure a peaceful and respectful atmosphere throughout the march.

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As the region’s administrative head, Manoj Sinha, met with Shia community leaders earlier this week, the demand for restoring the traditional Muharram procession gained momentum.

The revival of this significant procession was widely appreciated by many in Indian-administered Kashmir, while also sparking debates about the depth of its impact.

Despite mixed opinions, this landmark occasion signifies a potential step towards healing and reconciliation in the region.