Around 43 mosques in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur have been covered with plastic veils ahead of Holi to prevent any untoward events and incidents of throwing colour on the Islamic structures in the town.
According to the reports, the Shahjahanpur Police have covered about 43 mosques in the district with plastic sheets and tarpaulin to maintain law and order and prevent communal harmony during traditional ‘Laat Saheb ka Juloos’ (Laat Saheb procession) on Holi.
The annual ‘Laat Saheb Ka Juloos’ procession, also known as ‘Joota Maar Holi’, is organised at Holi in Shahjahanpur. The 18th-century tradition involves people hurling footwear at a ‘Laat Saab’, who sits on the buffalo cart personifying a Britisher.
The procession passes through sensitive areas where people first bow to ‘Laat Saheb’ and then beat him with shoes and brooms to show their anger and hatred towards British rule in the country. As there are mosques located along the route of the procession, the officials have added a thick security blanket across the town.
CCTV cameras installed, peace meetings held
Sanjay Kumar, Shahjahanpur City Superintendent of Police, said the mosques along the procession route would be covered with plastic sheets from top to bottom to ensure people no colour or any objectionable object is thrown at the structures and disturb communal harmony.
“The mosques will be covered before Holika Dahan (March 28). Some of them have already been covered,” Kumar said. Kumar said CCTV cameras have been installed along the route of the procession while drone cameras are being used to monitor the crowd.
The police officer said that the facade of the mosques has been covered with hoardings. Some of the roads which fall on the route of the procession have been barricaded and will be closed a day in advance so that no anti-social element can disturb the procession, the officer added.
Meanwhile, District Magistrate Indra Vikram Singh has held a meeting with Muslim religious leaders to seek their cooperation for the peaceful conclusion of the programme.
‘Joota Maar Holi’ – a long held tradition of the city
Thousands of people are expected to gather in Shahjahanpur for the ‘Joota Maar’ Holi’ that is scheduled to take place on Monday.
Explaining the history of the procession of ‘Laat Saab’, Historian Vikas Khurana said, “On the day of Holi, the procession of ‘Bade Laat Saab’ is taken out on a buffalo cart with Holi revellers hurling ‘jootas’ (footwear) at him.” He added that the Holi tradition dates back to the early 18th century during the time of Nawab Abdullah Khan, the last emperor of the dynasty that founded Shahjahanpur.
The tradition of people taking out a procession with the nawab seated on a camel continued till 1857.
However, the Britishers did not like the event that symbolised the Hindu-Muslim unity, and in 1858, Mardan Ali Khan, the commander of Bareilly’s military ruler Khan Bahadur Khan, attacked the revellers killing many Hindus and Muslims. Next year, in 1859, as the Nawab took out the procession on Holi, footwear were hurled at it on the instigation of the British rulers.
After Independence in 1947, the tradition was once again started, and the administration changed the name of the procession to ‘Laat Saab’ to symbolise the oppressive British regime. Since then, the celebration continues. The celebrations have two parts – the processions of ‘Bade Laat Saab’ and ‘Chhote Laat Saab’.
Similar precautions were taken in previous years too to maintain peace.