A Muharram procession was halted in its tracks this Saturday when police opened fire and wounded over 40 people according to witnesses. A police official reportedly said, “Some people had gathered and were trying to start a procession, they were dispersed,” though he added nothing further about either injuries or casualties. The affair has been particularly nasty with a neighboring clinic reporting 25 patients with pellet wounds. The doctor, on the condition of anonymity, revealed that “We moved about a dozen people to other facilities for more advanced treatment.”
A group confronting Indian forces during Muharram procession
Pellet wounds are not a new phenomenon for a region mired in violent political conflict. Amnesty International has asked India to ban pellet guns whose cartridges contain up to 630 metallic fragments that disperse indiscriminately. Eyewitnesses report the Indian forces using pellets and tear gas to end the gathering without deadly force, however, the pellets can still maim. ‘The forces fired pellets at the procession that was mainly peaceful and included women,’ said a witness.
Muharram processions are a worldwide custom when Muslims around the world mourn the death of Imam Hussain, the grandson of Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) who fought and was martyred at the battle of Karbala, 1400 years ago. India has regularly banned the processions since 1989 when the Kashmiris rose in revolt. There have been several arrests made by the Indian forces of individuals trying to start a procession, with some being charged by the Anti-Terrorism Law, an Official stated.