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Breaking 34-year logjam in Kashmir, LG Manoj Sinha joins Ashura Muharram procession in heart of Srinagar

In a first, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant-Governor Manoj Sinha participated in a Muharram procession in the heart of Srinagar on July 29 this year with peace returning to the Valley.

Srinagar: Scripting history in the violence-hit Kashmir valley, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Saturday joined a massive Zuljanah procession on the occasion of Ashura, the 10th of Muharram, in Srinagar’s interior area of Lalbazar.

Zuljanah, Tazia and Alam processions on the occasion of Ashura came out in all Shia localities across the Kashmir valley to commemorate the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammad’s grandson Hazrat Imam Hussain and his 72 companions in the battle of Karbala, Iraq, in 680 CE.

In Srinagar, the main Ashura procession has been banned on its traditional 12-km route from Abiguzar (Lalchowk) to Zadibal since 1988 due to armed insurgency. After 1989, it has been coming out on a changed route from Botakadal Lalbazar to Zadibal. In the past, on most of the Muharram processions, Srinagar has witnessed clashes and violence including firing of teargas cannisters and pellets.

For the first time this year, LG Manoj Sinha not only permitted the 8th and the 10th Muharram processions in Srinagar but also directed the police, security forces and the civil administration to provide every facilitation to the Muharram mourners. For the first time, a Governor or Lieutenant Governor himself joined the main Zuljanah procession in downtown Srinagar.

In the past, Governor Girish Chander Saxena was the only Governor who once visited Bagwanpora Lalbazar area when over 50 Shia mourners died in a house collapse here in 1993. On that occasion, then union Minister of State for Home Rajesh Pilot too visited this congested Shia neighborhood.

LG Manoj Sinha reached the spot of the beginning of the procession 30 minutes after it was taken out under the aegis of Shia cleric-politician Imran Reza Ansari’s Jammu and Kashmir Shia Association. The procession this year will culminate into Majlisi Shami Gareebaan at the historic Imambara of Zadibal late in the night today.

“This is an extremely positive development and a friendly gesture from the Government. Until recently, we witnessed police and CRPF fire teargas into our houses and pellets on the peaceful mourners, even though they never chanted any anti-national or separatist slogans. What our Chief Ministers Farooq Abdullah, Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti should have done, has been finally done by a Hindu (Lieutenant) Governor from outside. This is an irony”, Mohammad Qasim Wani of Zadibal said. “We are thankful to the Government of India which permitted our processions and provided all support. Now, it is our collective submission to Prime Minister Modi that the Ashura procession should be allowed back on its traditional route from Abiguzar to Zadibal through downtown Srinagar”.

The second largest Zuljanah procession on the occasion of Ashura came out from Imambara Mirgund. After treading a distance of 3 kms it will end at the historic Imambara of Budgam. Deputy Commissioner Akshay Labroo and SSP Al-Tahir Gilani are both escorting the procession of around 20,000 mourners.

Reports said that were over 20 more Zuljanah and Alam processions on Saturday in the Shia-dominated localities of Baramulla, Budgam, Pulwama, Anantnag, Ganderbal and Bandipora districts in the valley. The participants in all these processions performed mourning in their traditional style and recited nowha and marsiya while paying tributes to the martyrs of Karbala.

Reports of Ashura processions also poured in from the Shia neighbourhoods in Jammu besides Kargil and Leh in the Union Territory of Ladakh. All these processions of the day passed on peacefully without making any political demonstrations. No report of any untoward incident came in from anywhere.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid rich tributes to Hazrat Imam Hussain and other martyrs of Karbala. “We recall the sacrifices made by Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS). His courage and commitment to the ideals of justice and human dignity are noteworthy”, he tweeted.

LG Manoj Sinha too paid tributes to Imam Hussain and his companions. He tweeted: “Remembering the sacrifices of Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions in Karbala for upholding the values of truth, justice and equality, which have been guiding entire humanity to follow the path of righteousness”.

“Let us this day imbibe the eternal ideals of Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) and work unitedly for peace, progress and prosperity of the people”, Sinha added. He also posted his pictures of joining the procession with the mourners in Srinagar.

“Today on Youm-e-Ashoora joined Zuljinah procession at Botakadal, Srinagar’s Downtown and paid my tributes to Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions. Their sacrifice for righteousness and greater good of humankind serves as a beacon light for the world”, Sinha tweeted.