India imposes curfews in Kashmir after clashes during religious procession

Kashmir has been the site of frequent altercations between security forces and locals. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 September 2019

India imposes curfews in Kashmir after clashes during religious procession

  • At least 12 locals and six troops were injured, the worshippers on the traditional mourning procession of Muharram clashed with troops trying to stop it
  • Troops used tear gas and pellet guns on the crowd, which insisted on carrying on with the procession

SRINAGAR: India on Sunday imposed curfews in several parts of the contested Kashmir region, after clashes between security forces and Shiite Muslims taking part in a procession, officials and eyewitnesses said.
At least 12 locals and six troops were injured on Saturday evening, officials told Reuters, as the worshippers on the traditional mourning procession of Muharram clashed with troops trying to stop it.
Troops used tear gas and pellet guns on the crowd, which insisted on carrying on with the procession, one in a series held at this time of the year, and pelted stones at security forces, an Indian official who declined to named told Reuters.
“The clashes continued till late night during which the troops fired tear gas and pellets,” he added.
A spokeswoman for India’s interior ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
“Reasonable restrictions are necessary for peace and protection of life,” India’s national security adviser had said on Saturday, accusing Islamabad of trying to stoke violence in the region.
Kashmir, a mountainous Muslim-majority region claimed by both India and Pakistan, has been the site of frequent altercations between security forces and locals protesting against New Delhi’s decision to revoke special rights for the portion of the territory that it controls on Aug. 5.
The most recent clashes occurred in Rainawari and Badgam, two Shiite majority areas of Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir’s main city.
The five km (3 mile) procession route that passes through the city center has been barricaded by armed troops wearing helmets and bullet proof vests.
On Sunday, police vans fitted with loud speakers announced curfew-like restrictions in Srinagar’s city center Lal Chowk and adjacent areas, according to two Reuters witnesses.
“People are advised to stay indoors and not venture out of their home,” the police announced.
Suhail Ahmed, a Rainawari resident, said that there have been frequent clashes in the area for last three to four days as troops have been trying to block the procession.
“We hear deafening sounds of tear gas being fired for last few evenings. We mostly stay indoors but the gas comes into our homes making it difficult to sleep,” Ahmed said.
Muharram is the first month of the year according to the Muslim lunar calendar, and traditionally processions are held for the first 10 days of the month to observe the death of Prophet Muhammad’s nephew Imam Hussein, killed in battle in 680.
Shiite Muslims typically intensify their expression of suffering on the Ashura day, that this year falls on Tuesday.


Spain set for money laundering trial against uncle of Syria’s Assad

Updated 22 November 2019

Spain set for money laundering trial against uncle of Syria’s Assad

  • Rifaat Assad turned against the government in 1984 after a power struggle over who would succeed his older brother, Hafez
  • Rifaat Assad is also facing trial in France for allegedly acquiring millions of euros worth of French property assets

MADRID: Spain is heading toward a money laundering trial against an uncle of Syrian president Bashar Assad, the High Court said on Friday, after an investigating judge finished his probe.
The prosecuting office has ten days to comment on the judge’s recommendation that the case goes ahead, which is considered a formality, after which a trial start date will be set, the court said.
Two years ago, the High Court confiscated over €600 million ($663.24 million) of assets thought to be linked to Rifaat Assad.
He is a former military commander, widely held responsible for crushing an uprising in 1982 against then-president Hafez Assad, Bashar’s father. Many thousands were killed.
Rifaat Assad turned against the government in 1984 after a power struggle over who would succeed his older brother, Hafez. He now lives in exile between France and Britain.
He is also facing trial in France for allegedly acquiring millions of euros worth of French property assets.