Police averted clashes as Holi colours spilled over

JAMMU: Holi celebrations in Jammu could have turned sour, had Jammu and Kashmir Police (JKP), already on high alert, not acted timely and saved the situation from going out of hands. A small group of youth riding bikes made deliberate attempts to incite passions and create disturbances.

(A Sikh and a Muslim celebrate Holi in Udhampur)

Several incidents of water balloons were allegedly thrown at young minority community females in Janipur, Ustad Mohallah and some other areas. These incidents resulted in clashes between the youngsters of the two communities but police intervened quickly and defused the situation.

Colour assaults on veiled women led to community elders lodging strong protest with the police personnel.Though police intervened, it made no arrests.

Similar incidents were reported from Ustad Mohallah, Bari Brahmana and Bhathindi. In Bhagwati Nagar police had to virtually lay siege of a section of houses to ensure bike-riders do not crash in. There were similar attempts in Talab Khatikan and Gujjar Nagar as well.

Bike riding youth were shouting pro-Modi slogans, perhaps mixing the UP victory with the Holi festival. They were carrying party and saffron flags as well, residents alleged.

A police officer on the condition of anonymity said that there was deliberate attempt by a group of youngsters to somehow spoil the celebrations of Holi in Jammu.

At one place, members of minority community sat on a protest sit-in and were eventually asked by police to go home. They were seeking action against some on-locals who were trying to rouse passions by humiliating the residents.

“They neither live in this area nor have their houses here. And if it was all about celebrating Holi, they should not have resorted to abusive sloganeering. They deliberately tried to enter Talab Khatikan. There is no space to celebrate Holi in that area. Why would someone want to celebrate Holi at a place which is actually a narrow lane where cars and motorcycles remained parked throughout the day?  There is no space even for those who wish to walk comfortably. Then, the kind of sloganeering they were doing made the matters worse,” said officer.

“We took around four people into preventive custody and then let them off, after giving them a warning. We are on high alert and won’t let anyone disturb the law and order situation,” added the officer.

A senior police officer said there were “some minor incidents” but police acted “quite swiftly”. “These incidents are routine in north India but thank God we managed it well,” he said. He refused to be quoted insisting that he wishes to remain anonymous.

“Administration should have kept the police at all the sensitive locations, which they did not do. The police arrived at the scene of the incident an hour later. Things could have gone out of hand, had sensible people from both the communities not intervened,” Ashiq Hussain, President Shia Federation and prominent Muslim leader of Jamm, said. “We talk about communal harmony and we have worked tirelessly to keep Jammu peaceful but incidents like this which are followed by nasty videos being circulated all over have potential to rip apart secular fabric of Jammu region. Administration should not act carelessly when incidents like this happen. They should have been little more alert,”

BJP spokesman Balbir Ram said that he was out of Jammu city and in some rural area. “I don’t know anything about the incident you are talking about,” added Balbir.

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