ABOUT 1,000 activists from various Hindu organisations participated in a ‘Dharma Yatra’ from Karbala to Gangaur Ghat and performed a ‘puja’ thereafter without permission from the administration amidst heavy police presence on Sunday. The entire event, which had made the situation tense in the locality, passed off peacefully.
Sloganeering intended to rouse Hindu passions, sharp comments bordering on the communal and inflammatory speeches marked the entire event.
The entire episode, however, generated curiosity amongst bystanders and those living on the procession path and the areas having a predominantly Muslim population remained tense because of the same.
As per the scheduled programme, activists belonging to various outfits started gathering under the banner of Dharma Raksha Samiti at Karbala Maidan at 9.30 am. When the number of activists had reached a sizeable figure, ‘arti’ was performed under the auspices of Panchkuiyan Mahant Laxmandas at the Hanuman temple, which had been witness to disturbances sometime back.
The other religious leaders having a local following including Aishwaryanand, Vidyanand and Devanand led the ‘arti’. Laxmandas challenged the police to quell the Hindu sentiments. Theatrically, he proclaimed that the police did not have enough bullets to drown their voices.
He warned the police that they should not undermine the sentiments of the Hindus and issuing an ultimatum said that if National Security Act (NSA) imposed on Hindu activists was not revoked within 24 hours the locality area would be ‘converted’ from Karbala Maidan to Hanuman Chowk.
The procession later proceeded under the watchful eyes of the police to Gangaur Ghat. The marching order was headed by saints followed by women and children and then male activists, in that order.
The road and narrow culvert leading from the Dhobi Ghat abounded with saffron flags and posters/banners carrying inflammatory messages. A stage was erected near the Shiv temple. A board announcing the three-fold objectives of the Samiti including repealing NSA against their activists, renovation/ restoration of Ganesh temple, freeing Sri Ram temple from encroachments and punishing those who have committed sacrilege by violating the sanctity of the Shiv temple was also carried.
City Superintendent of Police (CSP) of the area Dhananjay Shah told Hindustan Times that the authorities had made large-scale preparations and police were present in adequate numbers to ward off any untoward incident.
The administration, in order to avoid any confrontation with the activists, allowed them to perform ‘puja’ in groups of five. Out of the about 750 people present on the ‘ghat’ nearly 450 performed ‘puja’ within half-a-hour before dispersing amidst loud sloganeering.
The Samiti had announced its programme three days back to press for demand of release an activist, Kishore Dangi, who was booked under National Security Act (NSA).
Due to the sensitivity of the event, IG Rajendra Kumar and Divisional Commissioner Ashok Das had inspected the entire route from Karbala to Gangaur Ghat on Saturday. SP Anshuman Yadav and District Collector Vivek Agarwal also reached Karbala Maidan Sunday morning and gave instructions to the field officers. The Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) also swung into action and cleaned/sanitised the entire area. The potholes were filled, the roads/lanes were demarcated with white chalk and watermen’s poles dotting the spot were removed overnight.
Apart from CSP’s Shah, Bhartendu Salunke, Amit Sanghi and Padmvilochan Shukla, ASP Dharmendra Choudhary, SDOP Sanver Rajesh Pingloiya, TIs from Chhawni and Juni Indore and policemen requisitioned from Jhabua, Khandwa and Dhar manned the area. Force from RAPTC, PTS, Home Guards, SAF and a company from first battalion and Rapid Action Force were stationed to garrison the area. Additional District Magistrate (ADM) Rameshwar Gupta, and Sub Divisional Magistrates Rajesh Rathore and Vivek Shotriya remained present on behalf of the administration.