Police stop religious gatherings in Indian Kashmir
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Police stop religious gatherings in Indian Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — Authorities used batons, tear gas and water canons to break up Muslim religious processions held Sunday in defiance of a strict curfew in the main Indian-controlled city of the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, police said.At least 70 people were detained after police imposed the curfew in some parts of Srinagar to prevent gatherings marking the Muslim holy month of Muharram from developing into anti-India protests, police chief Ashiq Bukhari said.

Clashes broke out as people resisted police interference with the gatherings and threw stones at officers, who retaliated with tear gas and water canons to break up the groups, he said.

No one was reported injured.

Muharram, lasting a month on the Islamic lunar calendar, is one of the most important holidays for Shiite Muslims, marking the death of Prophet Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hussein in the battle of Karbala.

Sunday was the eighth day of Muharram, but Shiites hold religious processions from the start of the month leading up to the 10th day, called Ashura, when Hussein was said to have died.

Large public gatherings have been banned in Indian-administered Kashmir since the outbreak of an armed insurgency in 1989 demanding the region’s independence from India or its merger with neighboring Pakistan.