70 hurt in Kashmir Shiite processions

Dec. 27, 2009 at 11:55 AM

SRINAGAR, India, Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Shiite Muslims and police clashed in India-controlled Kashmir Sunday, leaving at least 70 injured, officials said.

Health officials said the clashes, which erupted in Srinagar during processions marking the death of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Islamic Prophet Mohammed, left 17 police injured, the state-run Chinese news service Xinhua reported.

Indian officials have banned such processions since 1989 when an insurgency against New Delhi broke out. But Shiite mourners attempted to stage the processions anyway, during which Indian police first fired warning shots, then tear gas and finally resorted to baton charges, Xinhua reported.

The mourners, meanwhile, reportedly threw stones at police while chanting religious slogans and sometimes whipping themselves with steel chains and knifes.

The Press Trust of India quoted unnamed sources as saying the trouble began when a Shiite procession led by Nissar Hussain Rather of Tehreek-e-Wahadat-e-Islami party was stopped by police and asked to disperse.

"The protesters tried to violate the law and police had to intervene to restore order," a senior police officer told the Indo-Asian News Service.

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