After a gap of over three decades, the Shia community in Srinagar on Thursday took out a Muharram procession on the traditional Gurubazaar to Dalgate route, with hundreds participating in it in a peaceful conduct. The procession was taken out by members of the Shai community after permission was granted by the Jammu and Kashmir administration.

Jammu and Kashmir Police on Thursday termed the 8th Muharram procession as another historic landmark in the continued march toward peace and stability. An official spokesman of the police said that it shows the situation is at par with the days when normalcy was prevailing in the Kashmir Valley.

"Keeping in view the sensitivity of the day, when the shadow of terrorism and petty politics of separatism made it impossible to hold such events, the procession was not taken out for the last 33 years in the aftermath of violence and arson during the event", the statement reads.

Muharram procession in Srinagar after three decades
Muharram procession in Srinagar after three decades

It reads that today when it was restarted after over three decades, it shows the resolve and commitment to a peaceful and prosperous future.

"The procession started at 6 am and culminated at 11 am. Our forces were on the ground since 4 am and Naka and cut-off points were placed by 5 am. Before people started the procession, traffic management remained excellent since morning," it added.

It reads that the gathering of more than 25,000 people in the form of procession was fully disciplined, peaceful and well coordinated and it certainly is another historic day for our people.

Muharram procession
Peaceful conduct during Muharram procession in Srinagar

Mourners were gathered at Gurubazar at around 5.30 am

Mourners assembled at Gurubazaar around 5.30 AM as authorities had granted a two-hour window — from 6 am to 8 am — for the procession on the route that passes through the busy Lal Chowk area.

This is the first time in more than 30 years that the procession on the 8th day of Muharram has been allowed on the route.

Two young officers monitor this historic procession.

Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar, Rakesh Balwal, IPS, and Deputy Commissioner (DC) Srinagar Mohammad Aijaz Asad, IAS, attended the procession from Gurubazar to Dalgate. During the procession, both officers interacted with the mourners to ensure all facilities to the participants in the procession.

SSP Sriagar and DC Srinagar
Rakesh Balwal, IPS, SSP Srinagar, with DC Srinagar Mohammed Aijaz Asad, IAS, and Muzaffar Ahmad Shah, IPS, SSP Traffic, Srinagar during Muharram procession.

"It was the dream of the people to take out a procession from the traditional route and this dream has been fulfilled today. After a gap of over three decades this historic decision was taken by the authorities", DC Srinagar told International Bussiness Times. He said it was all due to the cooperation of the people that the process was passed peacefully.

He further said that the peaceful process is the dividend of the prevailing peace in Jammu and Kashmir. Asad, IAS, also noted that allowing procession after a gap of over three decades was a big challenge that was accepted by the administration.

Expressing his gratitude towards people for the peaceful conduct of the procession SSP Srinagar said that adequate security arrangements were made for the procession.

"Three-tier security arrangements were made to ensure peaceful conduct of the procession. Exhaustive security arrangements were in place. People also fully cooperated," Balwal, IPS, told International Bussiness Times, adding that "drones were used to monitor the movement of procession".

SSP Srinagar
Rakesh Balwal, IPS, SSP Srinagar serving water to mourners during Muharram procession in Srinagarsocial media

He further said that a traffic advisory was already issued on Wednesday evening to ensure a smooth flow of vehicular movement during the procession.

He further said that multiple rounds of meetings with representatives of different organizations of the Shia community were held and after threadbare discussions, it was decided to allow the procession.

We are committed to ensuring a peaceful environment in J&K: LG

"8th Muharram procession used to come out from Guru Bazar and culminate at Imambargah Dalgate before it was banned in 1989. Today the entire world is witnessing commitment & determination of the govt to ensure a peaceful environment, freedom, love, compassion & harmony in society", office of the LG Manoj Sinha tweeted.

"It is an occasion to reaffirm our commitment to peace and dedicate ourselves to the progress and prosperity of J&K UT. Several historic decisions have seen the light of the day in a few years and a peaceful J&K has emerged on the horizon. Let's further strengthen our bonds & unity", the office of LG further tweeted while quoting Manoj Sinha.

Permission for procession was granted on Wednesday

On Wednesday, Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir V K Bhiduri had said that as the procession was taking place on a weekday, the timing was restricted to 6 am to 8 am so that people do not face any inconvenience.

"There was a long pending demand from our Shia brothers that the traditional procession from Gurubazaar to Dalgate be allowed. It was not allowed for the past 32-33 years," he had said.

The administration's decision to allow the procession is a "historic step", the official had said. He had also said that the peaceful culmination of the programme will help the administration take similar decisions on other issues.