UP bans Muharram processions, clerics say attempt to divide Muslims

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The Uttar Pradesh government will not be allowing religious processions during Muharram in the state this year, India TV reported.

UP Directorate General of Police (DGP), Mukul Goel released a new set of guidelines for the state on Sunday, which stated Muharram should be observed with COVID appropriate behaviour. The DGP said Muharram observers should keep in mind all COVID protocols and practice social distancing.

Giving out instructions to police commissioners, Mukul Goel said terrorists may make an attempt to harm civilians during Muharram. The DGP has also asked the commissioners to keep a close watch on anti-social elements.

The DGP also informed that during Muharram, displays of any kind of weapon will be disallowed.

Meanwhile, Shia clerics are up in arms over the Muharram guidelines issued by the UP police and will be holding a series of meetings on Monday to decide their future course of action.

Shia clerics claim that the UP Police have used objectionable language in the guidelines issued for Muharram.

Terming an internal letter issued by the DGP office to police commissioners and police chiefs for maintaining peace during Muharram as a “charge sheet against the Shia community”, the clerics demanded that the government should immediately withdraw the guidelines.

Maulana Kalbe Noorie, said, “The guidelines are unacceptable as it shows Shias in poor light.”

General Secretary of Majlis-e-Ulama-e-Hind, Maulana Kalbe Jawad, said that communication with the DGP would be possible only when the document is withdrawn.

“The language is condemnable. We have asked Muharram committees to boycott meetings convened by the police and administration,” he said.

The main objection of the cleric to the guidelines is that Muharram has been repeatedly referred to as a ‘festival’ in the circular.

“The DGP should know that Muharram is certainly not a ‘festival’ but a period of mourning. The guidelines show the insensitivity of the state government towards the Muslim community,” Maulana Yasoob Abbas said.

He further said, “The guidelines say that ‘Tabarra is read on behalf of the Shia community. It said that some anti-social elements write this on the backs of animals and fly kites by writing such things which are objectionable to the Sunni community. This is a deliberate attempt to create a divide between Shia and Sunni communities.”

The Shia clerics have appealed to all the Ulama and organisations to boycott the peace meetings at the district and city level if the guidelines are not withdrawn.

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