Ashura procession in Kulgam district of south Kashmir | Photo: Muneeb-ul-Islam
Ashura procession in Kulgam district of south Kashmir | Photo: Muneeb-ul-Islam

Shi’a Muslims mark the 10th day of Muharram – first month of the Islamic calendar – as the day of Ashura to commemorate the death of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, at the Battle of Karbala over 1300 years back.

Ashura procession in Kulgam district of south Kashmir | Photo: Muneeb-ul-Islam
Ashura procession in Kulgam district of south Kashmir | Photo: Muneeb-ul-Islam

Large processions are held across Kashmir valley on the day. Although it is a religious ritual, some participants of this procession in southern Kashmir displayed placards to protest against civilian killings and use of pellet guns in Kashmir valley over past three months, and in other Muslims-majority regions in the world.

Children carry placards in an Ashura procession in Kulgam district of south Kashmir | Photo: Muneeb-ul-Islam
Children carry placards in an Ashura procession in Kulgam district of south Kashmir | Photo: Muneeb-ul-Islam

The demonstrators claimed their “hearts are bleeding for martyrs of Palestine, Kashmir and Yemen.” They sought end to use of pellet guns in Kashmir, which are supposedly ‘non-lethal’ weapons but have left thousands of people with lethal injuries, with hundreds losing total or partial eyesight.

A child carries placard in an Ashura procession in Kulgam district of south Kashmir | Photo: Muneeb-ul-Islam
A child carries placard in an Ashura procession in Kulgam district of south Kashmir | Photo: Muneeb-ul-Islam

Over 90 civilians, mostly pro-freedom demonstrators and stone-throwing youth, have died in Kashmir valley since July 8 when government’s armed forces killed popular rebel commander Burhan Wani. On July 9, at least 100,000 civilians managed to attend his funeral despite strict curbs imposed by the government across Kashmir. Clashes between mourners and forces erupted in many parts of south Kashmir, killing at least 12 civilians on the first day, the incident that had a ripple effect which still continues.

Ashura procession in Kulgam district of south Kashmir | Photo: Muneeb-ul-Islam
Ashura procession in Kulgam district of south Kashmir | Photo: Muneeb-ul-Islam