On March 29, a mob of sword-wielding men attacked policemen at a Gurudwara in Nanded after they were refused permission for a religious procession on the day of Hola Mohalla amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
It has to be noted that there were restrictions imposed by the Maharashtra government on Holi, Rang Panchmi and other festivals amidst a rising number of Covid-19 cases in the state. In its orders, the state government had said, “The festival should be celebrated in a simple manner, observing social distancing norms and without coming together in any way given the increasing spread of COVID-19. Rang Panchami too should be celebrated in a simple manner.”
While Holi, a festival sacred to Hindus, passed quietly amidst the restrictions, Sikhs of Nanded wreaked havoc with swords.
Maharashtra: 4 Police personnel injured after some Sikh youth broke gates of Gurudwara in Nanded & allegedly attacked them. SP says, ‘Permission for Hola Mohalla wasn’t granted due to #COVID19. Gurudwara committee was informed & they’d said that they would do it inside Gurudwara” pic.twitter.com/clOBTQBb9F— ANI (@ANI) March 29, 2021
A video is making rounds on the social media platforms in which mob could be seen at the Gurudwara raising slogans of “Jo Bole Sau Nihal”, breaking barricades and attacking the police officers present at the scene. At least 10 policemen, including the bodyguard of SP, Nanded, were injured.
Mob of sword-wielding men storm gurudwara in Maharashtra’s Nanded, injure 10 policemen@ShivSena @OfficeofUT @Dev_Fadnavis @BJP4Maharashtra @ChDadaPatil @BJP4India @Swamy39 @narendramodi @PMOIndia @CMOMaharashtra @SureshChavhanke@DGPMaharashtra @MantralayaRoom @maha_governor pic.twitter.com/1SwMnuT2pY— Akshay Maratha ⛳ (@AkshayBhendale) March 29, 2021
Gurudwara Committee had promised to abide by directions, says Police
Superintendent of Police, Nanded, said that there was no permission to hold any procession due to the Covid-19 pandemic. He said, “Permission for Hola Mohalla wasn’t granted due to COVID-19. Reportedly, the Gurudwara committee was informed, and they said that they would do it inside the Gurudwara premises itself. But around 4 PM, when Nishan Sahib was brought to the gate, they started arguing, and 300-400 youth broke the gate and marched outside. Police personnel suffered injuries, and vehicles got damaged.”
Committee had said they’ll do it inside Gurudwara premises itself. But around 4 pm when Nishan Sahib was brought to gate, they started arguing & 300-400 youth broke the gate & marched outside. 4 Police personnel injured, vehicles damaged. FIR registered, probe is on: SP Nanded pic.twitter.com/jq7O2LvGB3— ANI (@ANI) March 29, 2021
Nanded Range DIG Nisar Tamboli said in a statement that one of the injured constables was in serious condition.
The violent mob also damaged several vehicles. Police have registered an FIR in the case 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. The probe is underway, and DIG said that those who are responsible would be arrested soon.
About Hola Mohalla and Nishan Sahib
Hola Mohalla is a Sikh festival that falls around the Hindu festival of Holi. It takes place on the second day of the Lunar Month of Chett. The festival dates back to the 17th century when Guru Gobind Singh Ji added the element of military charge in the festival of Phalgun. The word ‘Hola’ is derived from ‘Halla’, which means military charge. The word ‘Mohalla’ means an army column. On the last day of the three-day festival, Sikh warriors, mainly Nihang Sikhs, showcase their martial capabilities. It is considered to be one of the most sacred festivals of the Sikh community.
Nishan Sahib is a triangular saffron-coloured flag that can be seen on every Gurudwara across the globe. It is hoisted on a steel pole covered with saffron-cloth. There is a Sikh symbol known as Khanda in the middle of the flag that is made out of a sword and a chakra.
The arrest of Khalistani supporter Sarabjeet Singh Kirat in Nanded
On February 9, 2021, a Khalistani supporter identified as Sarabjeet Singh Kirat was arrested by Maharashtra Police in a joint operation with Punjab CIB in Nanded. An FIR was registered under Section 154 of CrPC against him. Punjab Police also arrested another accused, identified as Gurpinder Singh, with the help of Nanded Police. He was booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Rising number of Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra
Notably, the number of coronavirus cases is rapidly increasing in Maharashtra, and reports suggest that it may lead to a complete lockdown. CM Uddhav Thackeray had recently asked officials to prepare for a possible lockdown. On Monday, Maharashtra reported 31,643 new Covid-19 cases. 102 people lost their lives due to Covid related complications raising the tally of deaths to 54,283 in the state. A total of 27,45,518 cases have been reported so far in Maharashtra, with 3,36,584 active cases.