The police have arrested 17 people who were part of a huge mob that resorted to violence after being denied permission to take out the annual Hola Mohalla procession because of Covid-19 restrictions. Sikhs celebrate Hola Mohalla around the time of Holi every year and display their martial skills during the festival.
On Monday, several hundred Sikhs gathered at the Gurdwara for Hola Mohalla despite being denied permission by the police. Around 4 pm, when the police tried to disperse the crowd in a bid to maintain social distancing, the crowd became violent and attacked them.
A video of the incident went viral on social media where a huge mob outside the Gurudwara can be seen kicking away the barricades put up by the police and attacking a handful of on duty personnel. The mob was armed with sticks and swords. Four policemen have suffered injuries in the incident but all of them are out of danger, confirmed a senior Maharashtra police officer.
Rajneesh Seth, Maharashtra DGP, told The Indian Express, “The situation is totally under control since yesterday (Monday). We have arrested 17 people for the violence. Four policemen were injured in the incident but they are out of danger.” An FIR has been registered under IPC sections for attempt to murder, causing grievous hurt and rioting.
Nanded is an important Sikh pilgrimage centre as it is home to a sacred shrine, the Takht Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchal Nagar Sahib. It was here that the 10th and last Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh (1666-1708), anointed the holy book Guru Granth Sahib as the eternal Guru of Sikhism and spent the last 14 months of his life.
“Permission for the Hola Mohalla public procession was not granted due to the pandemic. The gurdwara committee was informed and they had assured us that they would abide by our directives and hold the event inside the gurdwara premises,” Nanded Range DIG Nisar Tamboli told PTI.
“However, when the Nishan Sahib (a triangular saffron-coloured flag) was brought at the gate around 4 pm, several participants started arguing and over 300 youth stormed out of the gate, broke the barricades and began attacking the policeman,” he said, adding that six vehicles of the police were also damaged by the mob.
Tamboli said an FIR will be registered against at least 200 people under sections 307 (attempt to murder), 324 (voluntary causing hurt with dangerous weapons), 188 (Disobeying the order of public servant), 269 (Negligent act likely to spread infection) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and for rioting. “Those involved in violence will be arrested,” he added.
(With PTI inputs)