Last week, thousands of Muslims hit the streets to carry out the annual Muharram procession in Hyderabad defying a court order amidst the coronavirus pandemic in the country. According to the reports, several Muslims took the ‘Bibi Ka Alam’ procession in Hyderabad without adhering to social distancing norms. Many of the participants joined the procession without wearing masks.
The most shocking aspect of the procession was that the Muslims in the city had deliberately defied the order of Telangana High court that had rejected permission to hold such a Muharram procession in Hyderabad.
Defying the High Court order, the Muslim groups assembled at the Dabeerpura area and took out a procession as thousands gathered on either side of it as it passed through Muslim-majority areas of Charminar, Gulzar Houz, Purani Haveli, Darulshifa, and Chaderghat.
In its order, the Telangana High Court had not only denied permission for the Muharram procession but had warned of strict action if the order was violated. It had directed the Commissioner of Police to take action against any violation. Last week, even the Supreme Court had refused permission for Muharram processions in the country observing that if the procession is allowed, it will lead to chaos.
However, the Telangana police seems to have assisted the Muslim groups to hold a procession as the City Police Commissioner himself granted permission for the ‘alam’ to be taken out. Even though the Police Commissioner appealed to the community to cooperate with the police and not to gather on the route, the city police gave protection to the procession on Sunday.
Govt restricts Ganesh Chaturthi processions
The decision to allow Muharram procession in the state comes at the backdrop of a recent order by the TRS-led government restricting Ganesh Chaturthi processions in the state.
Telangana government in its order had disallowed any public celebration of the Ganesha festival and Muharram procession across the state in view of the novel coronavirus citing coronavirus pandemic. The government had directed to ensure no pandals, mass gatherings, processions, loudspeakers, and disco jockeys are allowed for the Ganesha festival.
Similarly, processions for installation of ‘alams’ during Muharram were also allegedly prohibited.
The TRS government, which had earlier denied permission to Hindus to take out Ganesh procession in Hyderabad, however, allowed Muslims to take out the Muharram procession in the city this week. The Hyderabad police had also allowed the Muslims in the old city of Hyderabad to install ‘alams’ and permitted the Muslims to take out processions on Sunday.
The decision to allow Muslim groups to take a procession despite a High Court ban and restrict Hindus during the Ganesh Chaturthi by denying a procession has now sparked a debate in the state. The KCR-led state government is now being criticized for the blatant act of minority appeasement.