Ashura observed in West Bengal amid tight security

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Kolkata, Oct 1 (IANS) Ignoring heavy-to-light rain, thousands of Muslims across West Bengal took out large processions, beat drums and thumped their chests on Sunday to mourn the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammed’s grandson Imam Hussain at Iraq’s Karbala in 680 AD on the 10th day of the Islamic month of Muharram.

Thousands of Muslims took out processions at many places here to observe the day, also known as Yaum-e-Ashura, an important date in the Islamic calendar.

On Muharram, considered a day of bereavement, Muslims observe voluntary fasts, give to charity and pray in remembrance of Hussain.

The day of Muharram this year, falls right after the Bijoya Dashami or Dussehra that is vastly celebrated throughout the city by the Hindus.

However, elaborate security arrangements were made in Kolkata and districts for mourning processions.

“Nearly 7,000 to 8,000 personnel have been deployed on the streets to monitor the processions,” a Kolkata Police officer told IANS.

According to police, the processions in various parts of the city began at 9 a.m. and would continue till Monday morning.

There was intense police patrolling, particularly in the sensitive areas, with traffic restricted in parts of the city to enable the processions to pass unhindered.

“Traffic was diverted in several roads including Prince Anwar Shah Road, Beliaghata Main Road during the procession,” said an official from Kolkata police control room.

“The situation was peaceful and no untoward incident was reported,” he added.

The traffic was pretty less in the city as people are still in the holiday mode.

The West Bengal government had initially issued a directive prohibiting the Durga idol immersion on the day of Muharram to avoid any form of unrest between the two communities.

However, the Calcutta High Court cancelled the state government’s directive and allowed the Durga Puja immersion to take place on all days after Dussehra till midnight. It also asked the administration to take up necessary security measures to ensure that the processions of both communities can be conducted peacefully.

Kolkata Police have made necessary security arrangements on the river banks where the immersion would take place, an officer said, adding most of the prominent community pujas have decided not to immerse the goddess on Sunday.

–IANS

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