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COUNTDOWN TO ELECTION 2018-2
All roads lead to Washington

Shahid Islam

The national cherry blossom festival in the Washington DC usually takes place between March and April each year; depending on the full blossom of these throbbing, eye-catching flowers. But many politicians from around the world cherish a dream to be showered by the Washington’s blessing all around the year; especially when their going goes tougher in the internal, internecine squabbling of one kind or the other.

Full Story

Shahid Islam

The national cherry blossom festival in the Washington DC usually takes place between March and April each year; depending on the full blossom of these throbbing, eye-catching flowers. But many politicians from around the world cherish a dream to be showered by the Washington’s blessing all around the year; especially when their going goes tougher in the internal, internecine squabbling of one kind or the other.

Road to Washington
This is another election time in Bangladesh. The nation is flushed with bougainvillea and krishnochura, not the cherries of the Washington vintage. But dashing to the Washington DC by our politicians remains a prerequisite to using the UN as a mediator to settle scores and discords in home politics. BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul had just finished such a jaunt to the DC and the UN headquarters in New York to inform the US and the UN that a fair, inclusive election in Bangladesh is well-nigh impossible under the incumbency of PM Sheikh Hasina, and the reasons thereof.
Fair enough. Dramas like this got orchestrated before every election since the inception of our nation. Barring the years until the death of Sheikh Mujib in 1975, Dhaka’s pro-Washington tilt has outlived the demise of the Cold War and the rising of China as a major global player. Washington is also indispensable for another reason, which former Libyan leader Colonel Qaddafi articulated quite aptly as “the UN means the US.”
That crisis anywhere calls for Washington’s interference is stitched to the US’s destiny. In February 1861, the Peace Congress of the delegates from 21 of the then 34 US states strove to avert what many saw as the US’s impending Civil War. They met in the city’s Willard Hotel. The strenuous effort failed and the War started in April 1861, only a month afterAbraham Lincoln was sworn in as the 16th US President, and, like our assassinated leaders and war heroes, Lincoln, who led the US civil war, was assassination in April 1865.

UN’s electoral role
The UN itself is a brain-child of another US president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who steered the adoption of the UN’s declarationon January 1, 1942, in the thick of the Second World War when representatives of 26 nations pledged to continue fighting together against the Axis Power.
The good old UN is now equipped with a political wing that houses election monitoring and assistance team within. Nations in the thick of internal crisis or civil war can call upon the UN’s help, albeit at the recommendation and approval of the mighty Security Council where big brothers decide the affairs of the others by approving, denying, or abstaining from voting a resolution.
Any election being an internal matter of individual nation-states, and Bangladesh not being under the cusp of a civil war of any sort (except verbally, so far), there is little hope that the UN can, or will, do much to impress upon the incumbent AL regime to pave ways for an inclusive election by holding it under a neutral regime that the combined opposition wants.

Jukto front
That combined opposition includes the newly formed joint alliance (jukto front). Before the 1954 legislative elections in the East Bengal, the very first since Pakistan became an independent country in 1947, a joint alliance of the opposition Awami League and the Krishak Sramik Party won a landslide victory with 223 of the 309 seats. Ever since, efforts made by many opposition parties to emulate the 1954 model made little headway.
Now, two political heavyweights like Dr. Kamal Hossain and former president Barduddoza Chowdhury launched a copycat version of the same to dislodge the AL-led regime by emerging as a viable third force in the midst of irreconcilable stances of the two main political parties, the BNP and the AL. This too is a non-starter, though not a no-brainer; given that the vote banks for their respective parties (Gonoforum and bikolpodhara) are drench and dry of followers.

Enter Ershad
Oops! We forgot to name another major/minor player, named HM Ershad, who had ruled the nation from 1982-90 with iron fist and bouncing speed. Since being dethroned by a mass upsurge in December 1991, he suffered prison terms and mercurial peculiarity of behavioral syndromes. He says one thing in the morning and changes that before the sunset. His Jatio Party is an official opposition in the existential parliament, but has stakes in the cabinet where his nominees are ministers. These days, he aspires to regain power once again; although his age, demeanor and popularity are nowhere to match that craving.

Bewildered Islamists
We must not forget the political Islamists who enjoy third-largest popularity in the country, in terms of voting power and street hooliganism. They are of two main vintages; one faction wants an Islamic revolution of the Iranian denomination, the other wants to tread a democratic path to go to power. Amidst intense bashing from the law enforcers, and the crumbling of their united desire to dislodge what they termed as ‘an infidel-inspired regime’, they all ducked into the oblivion.
There are reports and whispers that they are tied to some global networks of revolutionary Islamists, with an intent and preparation to re-activate their actions if the country finds itself drowned under the anarchy spewed by another botched election by the year’s end. Whether they can regroup and re-launch their so called jihad is a matter of time, and the space they find themselves in. For now though, they remain a spent force for all intent and purpose. Most importantly, the largest faction of this behemoth, the Jamat-I-Islam, is barred from contesting the polls.

Praxis, popularity, and the constitutional crisis
Having inspected the jugular vein of the nation’s body politic, the surmise we can make is a bleak and bubonic one:The nation of Bangladesh is faced with a moral, political and constitutional crisis. In a fairly contested election, the BNP may emerge as the single largest political party, but it may not join the race unless its leader Khaleda Zia is released from prison, and elections are held under a neutral regime.
These two demands are unlikely to be met by the incumbent regime that is insistent on holding the election under the amended constitutional guidelines which has no provision of a poll-time neutral regime. At the best, it is willing to concede to a poll-time government from within the incumbency, something the opposition says is unconstitutional too. If the constitution has no solution to resolve the crisis, it certainly is a constitutional crisis. And, if the domestic consensus fails to resolve the crisis, it certainly brooks external intervention too.

Abandoned simplicity
These simple things are well understood by street vendors and lorry drivers, not the so called leaders who run the affairs of the nation. They are cocooned in the shelf of their self-made fantasy world, obsessed by the glutted complacency that people still love them. The same fantasized obsession doesn’t allow other basic things to spread roots in this society.
For instance, almost half a century after gaining independence, the nation doesn’t have a rule book to hold inclusive election; it doesn’t have traffic lights to regulate traffic flows in the street; no one queues in the malls to buy the essentials, excepting in some elite stores. Appointments, postings and promotions are still on the basis of partisan loyalty and favoritisms. And, bank loans are mostly based on powerful-lobby recommendations.
Devoid of the basics, the nation moves at its own peculiar pace; drivers drive at wills, passers-by cross streets wherever they like. And, the politicians say and do whatever suits their individual, coterie and partisan interests.

Two way traffic
That’s why the Washington DC looms so illuminatingly in the eyes of Bangladesh. It’s a cultural, as well as a political paradox. Or, may not be any more. Dhaka and Washington are tied together like a Siamese Twain.
The PM’s son and grandchildren are US citizens, as are the sons and daughters of many others. They contribute hugely to the national economy by sending money and pulling away from the country more and more of their relatives through family sponsorship. The US houses thousands of political asylee and illegal Bangladeshi migrants, and, assists Bangladesh as a development partner.
There is little demeaning or degrading if the BNP secretary general visits Washington DC, or Washington comes to Dhaka. If someone doesn’t like that showmanship, that person should try and resolve Bangladesh’s internal crisis in a manner that forecloses the necessity to travel to the DC before every election; notwithstanding that the exercise itself throws a spanner on the notion of our sovereignty. Like or not, Uncle Sam still rules the roasts around the universe and, all roads still lead to the Washington DC.


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Naya Pakistan to grant citizenship to Bengalis and Afghans

Mizan Ali

Within a month of his inauguration as Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan on September 16 announced to grant citizenship to the children of Bengali and Afghan refugees staying in Pakistan for decades, marking a shift from the policies pursued by his predecessors.
“These poor migrants from Bangladesh, have been here for more than 40 years, their children are grown now … we will give them passports and ID cards, as well as those Afghans whose children have been raised here, who were born here, we will also give them [citizenship],” said Khan in Karachi on Sunday, according to the Al Jazera.

Full Story

Mizan Ali

Within a month of his inauguration as Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan on September 16 announced to grant citizenship to the children of Bengali and Afghan refugees staying in Pakistan for decades, marking a shift from the policies pursued by his predecessors.
“These poor migrants from Bangladesh, have been here for more than 40 years, their children are grown now … we will give them passports and ID cards, as well as those Afghans whose children have been raised here, who were born here, we will also give them [citizenship],” said Khan in Karachi on Sunday, according to the Al Jazera.

Khan a serious critic of Pakistan Army’s action in Bangladesh in 1971 and US invasion of Afghanistan reaffirmed on Tuesday his determination on the issue and sought recommendations from parliamentarians about his government’s proposal of granting citizenship to the children of Bengalis and Afghans.
‘Children born in Pakistan had the right to be called Pakistani,’
reported the News quoting the prime minister as saying on the floor of the house.
As per the 1951 law, all those born in the country had the right to Pakistani citizenship Khan said adding, ‘This law is followed in various countries, including the Europe.’
‘Bengalis who have been residing here for 45 to 50 years are being wasted. They are neither granted citizenship nor do they move back,’ Khan said on the floor of the house raising the issue ‘on the basis of humanity’.
The prime minister said, ‘Immigrants are also humans and if we do not take a decision on them then we will have to face severe problems,’ reminding the parliament that refugees could not be forced to leave the country under international laws.
The prime minister explained that the reason for rising street crime in Karachi was that immigrant children were not granted citizenship owing to which they were refused jobs.
Pakistan is home to more than 1.39 million registered Afghan refugees, according to United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), many of whom have been resident in the country for more than 30 years.
Afghan refugees, poured into Pakistan from its western neighbour for decades, first fleeing the Soviet invasion in the 1970s, and then the civil war that ensued and again since 2001, a fresh influx of refugees followed the US invasion of Afghanistan, and the subsequent the Taliban war to take back the country.
But Bangladeshi migrants’ perspective is totally different. There are more than 2.5 million Bangladeshis in Pakistan and most of them live in Karachi, according to some estimates. Among them many were stranded in the city after the Liberation War in 1971 when Bangladesh became independent. Many others also landed in Pakistan in search of job opportunities in the Middle East and Europe.
What is significant is that—the announcement of Imran Khan is a marked departure from the policy followed by the previous governments.
During Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s daughter Benazir Bhutto’s second stint in power in the mid90s, she ordered a crackdown and deportation on Bangladeshi immigrants. Her action created tensions in both countries.  In the wake of heavy criticism of political parties in Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto was forced to abandon the order.
Pakistani law allows citizenship for all those born in the country, with the exception of children of foreign diplomats, “enemy aliens” and those who migrated away from territories that became Pakistan after the partition of the subcontinent in 1947.
Khan’s announcement came at such a point of time when the issue of citizenship and illegal immigrants dominated political debate in India with Bengali Muslims at the central stage.


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Digital Security Bill passed

Special Correspondent

Ignoring the concerns expressed by different national and international quarters, including journalists civil society members, humanright groups and the political parties, t he much-talked-about “Digital Security Bill, 2018’ was passed in Parliament on Wednesday.
With the new law, the government aims to deal with cybercrimes, including hurting the religious sentiment, negative propaganda against the Liberation War and Bangabandhu, and illegal activities in e-transactions and spreading defamatory data.

Full Story

Special Correspondent

Ignoring the concerns expressed by different national and international quarters, including journalists civil society members, humanright groups and the political parties, t he much-talked-about “Digital Security Bill, 2018’ was passed in Parliament on Wednesday.
With the new law, the government aims to deal with cybercrimes, including hurting the religious sentiment, negative propaganda against the Liberation War and Bangabandhu, and illegal activities in e-transactions and spreading defamatory data.

Posts, Telecommunications and Information Technology Minister Mustafa Jabbar moved the Bill and it was passed by voice vote. Taking part in the discussion, Jatiya Party MP Fakhrul Imam said in the Bill, the concern of media people was not addressed and their opinions were ignored, which will push them into risk while performing their duties.
On the other hand, the inclusion of British regime Official Secrets Act is regretful and frustrating, he said. Fakhrul said its inclusion will hamper investigative journalism and research. “Once enacted, the law will be a blow to the main spirit of the Constitution, especially the freedom of speech and freedom of press. The digital security will create insecurity for the country’s citizens,” he said.
He along with some other opposition MPs, including Rawshan Ara Mannan, Shamim Haider Patwari, Mohammad Noman and Selim Uddin, proposed eliciting public opinions for the Bill, but it was rejected later. Mustafa Jabbar said since 2015, his ministry had been trying to address the concerns of all sectors, reports UNB.
He said if anyone goes through the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee concerned, he/she will see how much it was discussed with journalists. “In all steps, we attached highest importance to the opinions of journalists. We’ve brought necessary changes as per their opinions,” he said.
The minister said the law will open the door for ensuring freedom of speech and thoughts. Regarding the inclusion of the Official Secrets Act in the Bill, he said there is no instance about any punishment under this law.
“This law is not for suppressing the newspapers or controlling the newspaper industry,” Mustafa Jabbar said. He categorically said the law will be applicable only for containing digital offences.
Mentioning that the future war will be a digital war, the minister said the country has to be secure in that war. “If we don’t secure our country, we’ll be held responsible,” he added.
He described the law as a historical one for the country. “Many developed countries are regularly enquiring about the progress of the law. This law has to be followed by many countries across the globe. Because there’s no law for the digital security,” he said.
Citing the digital security law of Singapore, the minister said, “Anyone will find that we’ve made our law as heaven and that (Singapore law) will seem to be a jail.” He, however, accepted an amendment proposed by Fakhrul Imam for the section 43.
The Bill included the Official Secrets Act, 1923 where any offence will be committed under the law using computer, digital device, computer network, digital network or any other digital means. The punishment for this offence will be not more than 14 years of imprisonment or not more than Tk 25 lakh as fine or both.
If a person commits the same offence for more than once, the punishment will be lifetime imprisonment or not more than Tk 1 crore fine or both. Under section 21, the Bill included the definition of “spirit of Liberation War”. The definition of the spirit of the Liberation War as proposed by the committee is: “The high ideals of nationalism, socialism, democracy and secularism, which inspired our heroic people to dedicate themselves to, and our brave martyrs to sacrifice their lives in the national liberation struggle.”
The proposed law made inclusion of the Right to Information Act (RTI) under section 3 in case of right to information-related matter. The section 43 of the Bill says a police official can search or arrest anyone without any warrant issued by a court and police would carry out the job.
The jail term for spreading negative propaganda against the Liberation War or Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman using digital devices will be 10 years or Tk one crore fine or both, according to the Bill.
The proposed law made many crimes cognizable and nonbailable offences. In the bill, digital, database and critical information infrastructure have been defined. As per the bill, digital forensic labs, and a digital security agency under the Prime Minister’s Office will be set up, while a national computer emergency response team and an 11-member digital security council, headed by the Prime Minister, will be constituted.
If any person commits the offence for second time or more, the punishment will be lifetime imprisonment or fine Tk 3 crore or both. The punishment for illegal access to critical information infrastructure (CII) is maximum seven-year of imprisonment or Tk 25 lakh fine or both, while that for damaging the CII through illegal access is maximum 14 years’ imprisonment, or Tk 1 crore fine or both. If the offence is committed by the same person for second time or more, the punishment will be lifetime imprisonment or Tk 2.5 crore fine or both.
The punishment for resorting to cyber violence which will jeopardize integrity or security or sovereignty of the state, intimidate people or any section of people, impede legitimized access to computer, computer network or internet is maximum 14 years’ imprisonment or maximum Tk 1 crore fine or both. The punishment for hurting religious values and sentiment is maximum 10-year imprisonment, or Tk 20 lakh fine or both.
The punishment for providing or spreading defamatory data is maximum three-year jail or maximum Tk 500,000 fine or both, while that for destroying communal harmony is maximum seven years’ imprisonment, Tk 500,000 fine or both. The punishment for illegal activities using e-transaction services of bank, insurance, financial institution and any other organisation is maximum five years’ imprisonment, Tk 500,000 fine or both.
The punishment for resorting to cyber hacking is maximum 14 years imprisonment and Tk one crore fine, or both. Resorting to digital theft by capturing any confidential information of government and semi-government, autonomous and statuary bodies by using computer, computer network, digital network or any other electronic devices through illegal access is a cognizable offence.
The offences under sections 17, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 30, 31, 32, 33 and 34 of the proposed law are cognizable and non-bailable, while the offences under sections 20, 25, 29 and 48 are bailable ones.

Journalists, rights activists express concern
The journalist community and rights activists on Wednesday expressed concern over Parliament passing the controversial Digital Security Bill 2018 ignoring widespread protests.
Former president of Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists Manjurul Ahasan Bulbul said that the journalist community felt disappointed as their suggestions were not incorporated in the bill.
He expressed fears that the bill’s stipulations could be misused against working journalists.
He requested the government to review the bill as it could be used as a tool to create fears among working journalists.
Supreme Court lawyer and rights activist Shahdeen Malik expressed disappointment over Parliament passing the bill calling it a ‘black chapter’ in the legislative history of the country.
Former information commission member Sadeka Halim said that the bill contradicted the Constitution and the Right to Information Act.
She said that the government should clarify to the nation with sections that evoked huge concern.
She said that incorporation of a section from Official Secrets Act 1923 was not acceptable as even the British government scrapped such laws as they come into conflict with UN Convention regarding freedom of expression.
Socialist Party of Bangladesh general secretary Khaliquzzaman said by passing the bill ignoring public opinion the government made it clear that the next general election would not reflect voters’ opinion.
He called the bill ‘anti people and a black legislation.
He urged the people to take to the streets to compel the government to drop the bill.
On Sunday, the Editors’ Council rejected the Digital Security Bill and a Parliamentary standing committee report on it as the committee recommended no changes to the controversial bill.
The Editors’ Council said in a statement, ‘We are forced to reject the said report’ as it suggested no fundamental changes to sections 8,21,25,28,29,31,32, and 43 in the bill posing serious threats to freedom of expression and media operation.’
The statement said that the Editors’ Council was forced to reject the JS body report and the Digital Security Bill because ‘it is opposed to the guarantees of freedom of expression and freedom of the press by the Constitution in Articles 39(2) A and B’, ‘it is opposed to the idea of freedom of thoughts and independence of media as enshrined in the spirit of our Liberation War,’ ‘it is opposed to the basic practice of democracy that Bangladesh has always fought and stood for,’ and ‘it is opposed to the fundamental principles of journalism and freedom of the media that journalists in Bangladesh have struggled for.’


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Justice SK Sinha says he was exiled by govt

Special Correspondent

Bangladesh’s former Chief Justice of Surendra Kumar Sinha come up with a book “A Broken Dream: Rule of Law, Human Rights and Democracy” stating his story about his exile. He said he had to resign in the face of intimidation and threats to his family and friends.
“I had the opportunity and honor to observe this transformation and the hindrances as a participant of the Bangladeshi judiciary since 1974 — rising from a practitioner at a lower court in the north-eastern district of Sylhet to the highest judicial position of the country, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Full Story

Special Correspondent

Bangladesh’s former Chief Justice of Surendra Kumar Sinha come up with a book “A Broken Dream: Rule of Law, Human Rights and Democracy” stating his story about his exile. He said he had to resign in the face of intimidation and threats to his family and friends.
“I had the opportunity and honor to observe this transformation and the hindrances as a participant of the Bangladeshi judiciary since 1974 — rising from a practitioner at a lower court in the north-eastern district of Sylhet to the highest judicial position of the country, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

But, in 2017, after delivering a historic verdict in favor of the independence of judiciary, I was forced to resign and exiled by the current government,” Sinha wrote. “It was unprecedented in the history of the judiciary.” Sinha narrated a series of “unfortunate and unprecedented events”, which led to the tension between the executive and the judiciary and “subsequent improper action against me”.
The tension began on September 17, 2014 when the Bangladesh parliament amended the constitution to provide power of impeaching judges to the members of parliament, reports bdnews24.com.
“The 16th Amendment of the Constitution deleted the provision of removing Judges from office through a highly powerful committee of peers called the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). The SJC, as stipulated in the constitution, also allowed the accused to have self-defense. Most importantly, the process was meant to protect the judiciary from being subjected to political vagaries and serving political leaders than the citizens.”
On May 5, 2016, a special High Court bench declared the amendment illegal and unconstitutional. “Soon after the verdict, the MPs blasted judges for nullifying their legislation and began displaying sheer disrespect to the judiciary. However, the state party opted for an appeal which was heard by a seven-member full appellate bench. It was incumbent on me to head the Bench.”
On July 3, 2017, the bench unanimously rejected the appeal upholding the High Court verdict. Following the appellate decision, on September 13, 2017, the parliament passed a resolution calling for legal steps to nullify the Supreme Court verdict.
The prime minister and other members of her party and ministers “blasted me for going against the parliament”. “Cabinet members including the Law Minister began smearing me alleging misconduct and corruption. While I remained confined at my official residence and lawyers and judges were prevented to visit me, media were told that I am unwell and have sought medical leave.”
“Various ministers said I will go abroad on medical leave. On October 14, 2017, as I was compelled to leave the country, I tried to clear the air in a public statement that I am neither unwell nor am I leaving the country for good.
I was hoping that my physical absence combined with Court’s regular vacation will allow the situation to calm down and good sense will prevail; that the government will understand that the essence of the Verdict - upholding the independence of judiciary - is beneficial to the nation and the state.” Justice Sinha said he resigned from abroad in the “face of intimidation and threats to my family and friends”.


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GEELANI, MIRWAIZ, MALIK CONDEMN RESTRICTIONS
Kashmir Police foil Muharram processions, 8 mourners and 2 cops injured

Online Agencies

At least eight mourners and two policemen were injured on Wednesday as police foiled Muharram processions across Srinagar, throwing the capital city into chaos with mourners offering stiff resistance and fighting pitched battles with the uniformed personnel.
Several mourners were bundled into police vehicles and lodged in various police stations were they remained in preventive custody.
Before 1990, on the 8th day of Muharram, Ashura procession would commence from ShaheedGunj area, pass through MA Road and later culminate at Imam Bara Dalgate. However, during the past 28 years, authorities have not allowed the Ashura processions, citing security reasons.

Full Story

Online Agencies

At least eight mourners and two policemen were injured on Wednesday as police foiled Muharram processions across Srinagar, throwing the capital city into chaos with mourners offering stiff resistance and fighting pitched battles with the uniformed personnel.
Several mourners were bundled into police vehicles and lodged in various police stations were they remained in preventive custody.
Before 1990, on the 8th day of Muharram, Ashura procession would commence from ShaheedGunj area, pass through MA Road and later culminate at Imam Bara Dalgate. However, during the past 28 years, authorities have not allowed the Ashura processions, citing security reasons.

This year, at various places in Srinagar, mourners were seen carrying the portrait of slain HizbulMujahideen commander BurhanWani in the Muharram processions.
The Muharram processions are taken out across Kashmir in the first 10 days of the Islamic calendar to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain (AS), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), who was martyred along with his family members, some 1400 years ago in Karbala, Iraq. 
Authorities in Srinagar imposed stringent curbs in areas falling under eight police stations—Batamaloo, ShaheedGunj, Karanagar, Maisuma, Kothibagh, Shergrahi, Kralkhud and Ram Munshibagh.
Rolls of concertina wire were laid to block some arterial roads in Batamaloo, Residency Road, Dalgate, Ram Munishbagh and Maisuma to prevent mourners from assembling in large numbers. Most of the shops in the commercial hub of LalChowk remained shut due to the curbs.
A witness said that mourners reached Batamaloo at around 11 am and tried to proceed towards LalChowk.
“However, they were intercepted by the police. The mourners amid thumping of their chest were raising slogans like YaHussain (AS). Many of them were pushed back by police resorting to cane-charge while a few were taken into preventive custody,” the witness said.
Folowing afternoon prayers, another group of mourners showed up at JehangirChowk. Clad in black dresses, the mourners were chanting pro-Islam and pro-Imam Hussain (AS) slogans.
“They were stopped by the police that fired a few tear gas shells to push them back. Dozens were bundled into police vehicle and lodged in police station ShaheedGunj,” a police officer said.
Another group that came from Guru Bazar, tried to march from JehangirChowk towards LalChowk. However, a heavy contingent of police deployed there intercepted them, detaining many.
Witnesses said a massive procession was taken out from Dalgate area where police resorted to firing of dozens of tear gas shells to push the mourners back.
“Three mourners suffered minor injuries in the police action,” said a witness. “They were removed to SMHS hospital for the first aid.”
The mourners fought pitched battles with the police at Dalgate fighting tear gas and swinging batons.
“The mourners later started pelting stones on the policemen. Clashes were going on in the area till late evening,” the witness said.
A police officer said that two policemen also sustained injuries due to stone pelting at Dalgate.
Yet another procession was taken out from AbiGuzar in LalChowk, which tried to proceed towards Dalgate, but was stopped also by police, detaining more mourners.
“The mourners had parked their vehicles near Mamta hotel, Dalgate and later tried to march towards Imam Bara. Policemen who were deployed in huge numbers fired tear gas shells and even lathi-charged the mourners to push them back,” the witness said.
The mourners, however, refused to budge and clashed with the government forces.
Leaders condemned Police action
MoulanaMasroor Abbas Ansari, president of ItehadulMuslimeen strongly denounced the curbs on mourners and ban on Muharram procession.
“I want to ask the administration and the police if they can facilitate two month long Amarnath pilgrimage, JanamasthamiYatra through the roads of LalChowk, why are Muharram procession banned and mourners thrashed,” he said.
“This is total interference into the religious affairs and deserves all forms of condemnation.”
Ansari, who is also the Huriyat (M) executive member, said tall claims of government and police that peace was prevailing fall flat when “peaceful procession is disallowed.”
Hurriyat Conference (G) chairman Syed Ali Geelani, Hurriyat Conference (M) Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and JKLF chief Muhammad Yasin Malik strongly condemned the use of force against the Muharam procession in different parts of Kashmir.
“The police action is a sheer interference in the religious matters of the Muslims,” Geelani said in a statement issued here, castigating the police and administration for imposing “undeclared curfew” in Srinagar city.
“Use of excessive force against the Muslims participating in the peaceful religious processions has exposed the fascist and biased mentality of the occupation authorities towards the Muslims,” the statement quoting Geelani as having said.
Hurriyat Conference (M) chief, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also condemned imposition of curfew-like curbs in majority of Srinagar areas and termed the barring of Muharram procession as direct interference into religious affairs.
“Srinagar held hostage by rulers to disallow Muharram procession! Curbs and restrictions on people’s movement everywhere. Roads and alleys leading to hospitals especially SMHS also blocked..sick being made to suffer! Harassment of people keeps getting worse by the day,” Mirwaiz wrote on his twitter handle.
“It has been the age old practice across Kashmir that on 8th and 10th of Muharram, huge processions used to take out from various parts of Srinagar and other parts of the valley to pay rich tributes to Hazrat Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions who were martyred in Karbala,” a Hurriyat statement said.
“However over the past three decades, the rulers have been disallowing these processions and using brute force against the mourners which is highly condemnable.”
In a statement issued here, Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front chairman Muhammad Yasin Malik also condemned the use of force against the mourners.
“Srinagar was sealed with barricades and strict restrictions were in place. When mourners defied these barricades they were showered with tear smoke shells and bamboos resulting in injuries to many mourners,” Malik said.
He also condemned the arrest of hundreds of mourners and termed it as “highhandedness and direct interference into the religious affairs.”
 


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