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Published in the 16-31 May 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Communal tension over havan and bhandara

The Milli Gazette Online

Aligarh: Communal tension prevailed in Aligarh over havan and bhandara programmes (offering lunch and dinner to religious leaders and saints) in the communally sensitive area of Dahi Wali Gali on the occasion of Nau Durgey festival. On the night of 14 April the situation took an ugly turn after people of two communities assembled at the place of havan and started raising communal slogans. Fearing communal clash, a large number of civil police, Provincial Arms Constabulary (PAC) and Rapid Action Force (RAF) personnel were deployed at the place of incident. Police and civil authorities tried to control the situation but when the situation started going out of control the RAF resorted to lathi-charge to disperse the crowd.

The havan was being performed in a temple in Mohalla Dahi Wali Gali for some days but no one objected to it but when some people arranged bhandara, the members of the other community objected to it saying that such a programme was never held on earlier occasions. They objected on the ground that if they did not object to it the programme would become a regular feature. When the organisers of the programmes insisted on carrying out the programmes the situation became very fluid and the police had to resort to lathi-charge. The authorities invited senior and responsible citizens from both the communities in the kotwali and after talks they agreed to four points. On Nau Durgay festival, a gate decorated with flowers will be erected at the temple in Dahi Wali Gali as earlier and that since bhandara was never held earlier it will not be held now and in future also and that the havan will be held inside the temple and no new rites would be introduced. 

Even after the agreement between the two communities, the organisers arranged havan outside the temple. The members of the other community objected to it and reported the matter to the police. Police officers arrived at the place and insisted that as per the agreement, havan should be held inside the temple but the organisers did not listen to them. The two sides started sloganeering and the situation became tense again. 

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