Security stepped up in Kolkata for Muharram processions

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Kolkata, Oct 1 (IANS) Elaborate security arrangements were made in Kolakata on Sunday for mourning processions by Shia Muslims on 10th of Muharram, the first month of Islamic calendar, police said.

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

Shia Muslim devotees take out large processions, beat drums and thump their chests on this day to mourn the martyrdom of Prophet Mohammed’s grandson Imam Hussain in 680 AD at Iraq’s Karbala.

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

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

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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.

The High Court 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.

“We have deployed the forces and have taken adequate security measures in case anyone wants to immerse the idols. However, most of the big pujas have asked permission for immersion on October 2 and 3.”

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