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In Pictures: A Woeful Walk of Remembrance

In Pictures: A Woeful Walk of Remembrance

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To summon up the supreme sacrifice of the Imam, mourners thronged streets in Kashmir recently only to face the vexed mood.


Swarms of sorrowers left behind a streak of sadness as they passed through manned streets with the shimmering name on their lips, tears in their eyes, and thumps on their heaving chests.

As the flagbearers of the martyr’s cause, the caravan of black-attired men, women and children raised the vintage pitch against the oppression.

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Maroof Riyaz for the Mountain Ink

But even mourners were mindful of the fact that Kashmir of 2020 was a transformed grieving landscape, where massive farewells have now become a thing of not-so-distant past.

With the fall of semiautonomous status last summer, the region is witnessing a sweeping wave of change—crumbling the old order, many say, brick by brick.

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Apart from altered equations, the idea of lament also changed amid Covid rampage.

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To ensure “desolation and discipline” on the day of mass outpouring, law-enforcers, in dozens, were retaining the routine regiment.

But when the sentimental resilience faced the state resistance, rage erupted on streets. The duck-hunting firearms swiftly became smoking guns.

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“And soon,” recalls a mourner, currently attending his pellet-injured kin at Srinagar’s SMHS hospital, “Karbala returned to haunt Kashmir.”

But the law enforcers armed with controversial pellet gun warranted the wrath.

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“Everybody knows that Muharram processions aren’t allowed in Kashmir,” says a senior police officer.

“And also, in these Covid times, such gatherings can’t be sanctioned for the sake of social distancing. But when violators can’t even understand this basic rightful thing, how are law-enforcers supposed to deal with them?”

But mourners don’t buy the state statement.

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“When they can allow Gangbal Yatra at the eco-sensitive place and let a bunch of non-locals carry Ganesh Visarjan march in the heart of Srinagar, then why can’t they allow our basic religious right,” asks Iftikhar Haider, a trader from Budgam.

“We were denied mourning at a time when government had lifted the curbs over praying assemblies in Kashmir.”

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The upshot of the muzzled mourning was a class 10 student—now wondering whether he would be able to see again. The agonized teen is the latest pellet-distorted face from Kashmir.

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But he’s not alone.

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There’s another youngster who says he was arranging refreshment for mourners when the piercing needles hit his eye.

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He’s now waiting for his surgery date.

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In Kashmir’s mourning history, such force, many say, was never used before.

“None of us was taking law and order in our hands and yet we were gassed and pelleted,” says Qasim Ali, an aspiring lawyer who was part of Muharram procession.

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Ali opines that the action stems from the “growing bossiness” of the administration — the lock, stock and barrel of the region at the moment.

“When even upholding one’s religious rights becomes a law and order problem in Kashmir, then what are we supposed to do then?”

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Clearly, as mourners currently debate and discuss the latest lathi-charge in the valley, a flurry of questions remains unaddressed, unanswered.

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The action, notably, came when all and sundry— even who’s who in Unified Command—were paying tributes to the Imam’s supreme sacrifice.

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Maroof Riyaz for the Mountain Ink

Left embittered by the use of force on them, the mourners took heart in the classic chant, “Islam Zinda hota hai, har Karbala ke baad”.


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