RINAGAR, India // At least 60 mourners were injured today when police used batons, firing in the air and tear gas to break up a procession by hundreds of Shiite Muslims in Indian Kashmir's main city, officials said. During the first Muslim month of Muharram, Shi'ites across the world mourn the death of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson Imam Hussein in the Iraqi city of Kerbala in the year 680. But in Kashmir, Muharram processions and public gatherings by separatists have been banned since a rebellion against Indian rule broke out in 1989.
"More than 50 people were also detained," police officer Ali Mohammad said. Today's procession in Srinagar was headed by members of Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen Jammu Kashmir, part of the region's main separatist alliance, the All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference. Stone-throwing Shi'ites clashed with police in several parts of Srinagar after the procession was stopped, forcing police to fire tear gas shells, witnesses said.
The mourners were beating their chests with their fists, and chanted "La ilaha illalah" (There is no god but Allah). "We strongly condemn the police brutality," said Moulana Abbas Ansari, a leading Shiite priest and chief of Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen. The injured included at least six photojournalists, police said. Tens of thousands of people have been killed in Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state since an anti-India insurgency broke out two decades ago.