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Rediff.com  » News » No Hindu mahapanchayat in Uttarakhand's Purola; bandh in protest

No Hindu mahapanchayat in Uttarakhand's Purola; bandh in protest

Source: PTI   -  Edited By: Hemant Waje
Last updated on: June 16, 2023 00:55 IST
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Markets in Uttarakhand's Purola and neighbouring towns remained closed amid heavy police deployment on Thursday in protest against the imposition of prohibitory orders to prevent a 'mahapanchayat' that was scheduled to be held there over alleged incidents of 'love jihad'.

IMAGE: Security personnel deployed in Purola after the imposition of section 144 of the CrPC by district administration, in Uttarkashi district on Thursday, June 15, 2023. Photograph: PTI Photo

Police were deployed in large number in Uttarkashi district's Purola where tension has been brewing for over a fortnight since an alleged attempt by two men, including a Muslim, to abduct a minor girl.

While hearing a petition on Thursday on the communal tension in the hill town, the Uttarakhand high court directed the state government to ensure that law and order is maintained and no loss of life or property takes place.

 

The state government had issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) to prevent the mahapanchayat called by local trade bodies and Hindutva outfits, including the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal, on Thursday over alleged incidents of 'love jihad'.

'Love jihad' is a term often used by right-wing outfits to allege a ploy by Muslim men to lure Hindu women into religious conversion through marriage.

However, the call for the mahapanchayat was withdrawn by the organisers late on Wednesday night. Section 144 was imposed in Purola on Wednesday for six days till June 19.

Commenting on the Purola development, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said no one will be allowed to take law into their hands.

"Law will take its course if anyone tries to vitiate the atmosphere. We have appealed to all sections of society to maintain peace," Dhami said.

There was a substantial deployment of police and Provincial Armed Constabulary (PAC) personnel on the streets of Purola to ensure that there is no violation of the prohibitory orders.

Three PAC platoons have been deployed in addition to police personnel, Uttarkashi Superintendent of Police (SP) Arpan Yaduvanshi said. Two circle officers and an additional SP have also been deployed in Purola, he said.

Barricades have been put up in the entire Nagar Panchayat area and people moving in groups are being checked, the officer said and added that barricades have also been put up on the borders of Uttarkashi district.

The markets in Purola, Barkot and Naugaon will remain completely closed, Purola Vyapar Mandal president Brijmohan Chauhan and Barkot Vyapar Mandal president Rajaram Jagudi said.

"The imposition of prohibitory orders in Purola reflects the administration's dictatorial attitude. The steps taken to prevent the mahapanchayat show that we cannot share our point of view with our own people. It is a kind of slavery," Jagudi said.

The bandh has been organised to acknowledge the efforts of those who have tried to awaken Hindus, he said.

The high court, while hearing the petition, also asked people not to engage in debates on social media on the incident, which had sparked communal tension in the town, and said it will help normalise the situation.

The state government is working towards maintaining law and order in the area and with time, things will settle down as time is the best healer, a division bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rakesh Thapliyal said and also expressed satisfaction with the steps being taken by the authorities.

The petition was moved by advocate Shahrukh Alam on behalf of The Association for Protection of Civil Rights seeking prevention of the mahapanchayat in Purola as it could disturb public harmony.

The court said that the communities have been living in harmony with one another for centuries and they will continue to do so.

It was said in the petition that a mahapanchayat has been called by various Hindutva organisations after a minor girl belonging to the Hindu community was caught eloping with a man of the Muslim community.

Advocate General S N Babulkar informed the court that Section 144 has been imposed in the area and steps have been taken to defuse communal tensions, thereby, effectively preventing the mahapanchayat.

The petition also called for the state to maintain law and order in the area. It was alleged in the petition that Muslim shopkeepers have been asked not to open their shops.

Posters announcing the same have been pasted outside their shops as well as uploaded on social media, it claimed.

Protection for such shops and their owners was also demanded by the petitioner. It was further prayed that FIR be registered against those who had authored such posters.

The bench also said one cannot be forced to buy or not buy from a particular shop. As for the FIR, it maintained that it is for the police to proceed in such matters.

The high court also said that an FIR has already been registered in the matter.

Even if there is an error on part of the police, the option to approach the magistrate under section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is always available, it said.

Earlier, over three dozen people were stopped near Mungra bridge while marching towards Purola.

When they were denied permission to proceed further towards Purola, they sat in the middle of the road and shouted slogans against the administration in the presence of police personnel.

They were detained and taken to Naugaon inter college where they were kept for four hours before being released.

Those detained included Yamunaghati Hindu Jagriti Sangathan president Keshav Giri Maharaj, Barkot Vyapar Mandal president Rajaram Jagudi, general secretary Dhanvir Singh Rawat, Naugaon Vyapar Mandal president Jagdish Aswal and Yamunaghati Hotel Association president Soban Singh Rana.

Addressing the gathering before the detention of protesters, Yamunaghati Hindu Jagriti Sangathan president Keshav Giri Maharaj said it was unfortunate that Section 144 of the CrPC which was associated with Jammu and Kashmir is now being invoked in Uttarkashi district where the holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna originate.

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Source: PTI  -  Edited By: Hemant Waje© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.
 
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