The Election Commission on Wednesday banned religious rallies in Gujarat, adding the proposed Vishwa Hindu Parishad yatra in Gujarat should not be allowed to take place.
"The Commission has noted with utmost concern the report of the state administration in Gujarat conveying that there is every likelihood of communal tension and passion getting exacerbated by the proposed yatra planned by the VHP from November 17," the Commission in a press note said.
The Commission has also noted with concern that the proposed yatra would involve use of replicas of S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express burnt down by miscreants in Godhra on February 27 and the likelihood of 'communally provocative and intemperate speeches' being made during the course of the yatra.
The state administration has unequivocally stated that possibilities of law and order situation arising in the wake of the proposed yatra cannot be ruled out. "In view of this the proposed VHP yatra should be allowed to take place," it said.
"We would, in fact, go far as to state that any activity, which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred, disharmony, ill-will or caste-tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic, will not only vitiate the election process and tarnish the fair democratic traditions of the country, but will also seriously jeopardise the law and order situation conducive for the conduct of free and fair election in the state," the Commission said.
"The maintenance of law and order is the responsibility of the state government and the Commission expects the state administration to take all such measures under the existing laws as are considered appropriate for maintaining an atmosphere conducive for conduct of peaceful, free and fair polls even during the run-up period to the election," it said.
The Commission directed the state government to take all such measures under the laws to prevent any such yatra and procession and display and use of images that may incite communal tensions and passions that would disrupt law and order and vitiate free and fair elections.
"Similarly, preventive and punitive action should be taken against individuals, parties and organisations indulging in communally incendiary and provocative speeches, posters and pamphlets that incite communal tensions," it said.
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