HindustanTimes Tue,23 Dec 2014

Eid celebrations in Saharanpur subdued, 5,000 hold prayers

Rajesh Ahuja and S Raju, Hindustan Times  Saharanpur, July 29, 2014
First Published: 11:33 IST(29/7/2014) | Last Updated: 01:08 IST(30/7/2014)

Eid celebrations in violence-hit Saharanpur were subdued with only about 5,000 Muslims praying at the Idgah amid tight security on Tuesday after last week’s communal riot that killed three people.

Curfew was relaxed in parts of the district for some hours but will be in place on Ambala Road, the main route to the Idgah, where rioters torched dozens of shops, vehicles, and even a fire station, on Saturday.

Paramilitary and police forces guarded troubled areas and people left quickly after offering namaz because the administration had clamped down on large gatherings at the Idgah and asked people to offer namaz at neighbourhood mosques instead.

Analysis: This too shall not pass: Saharanpur riots may go unpunished

The local cleric, Shahar Kazi Nadeem, urged people to refrain from violence and work to restore peace in the town, where about 100,000 people normally offer prayers at the Idgah during peaceful times.

“I told people that Eid is a festival that teaches us to spread joy and happiness hence we must work to maintain peace and brotherhood in our city,” Kazi told HT over the phone.

Local Muslims said the celebrations were relatively muted this year after the bloody clashes between Sikhs and Muslims last week that left three people dead and several injured.

Read: Daily wagers bear the brunt

Watch: Curfew relaxed in Saharanpur for Eid

“Eid is for kids and women and they have been the most quiet this time,” said Mohammad Hussain, a local resident who lives near the Idgah.

District authorities said they were working to restore normalcy to the area.

“The peaceful Eid namaz will go a long way to help the city return towards normalcy. We wanted to ensure that no provocative message should come out from the Idgah," said divisional commissioner Tanvir Ali Zafar.

Zafar said the administration would sit with Sikhs and Muslims to find a solution to the land dispute near the gurudwara that triggered the violence.

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