FPJ Explains: What led to violence at the gurudwara in Maharashtra’s Nanded?

Amidst the worsening COVID-19 situation in the state of Maharashtra, the government is trying its hard to curb the spread of virus in the state. From imposing night curfew and other strict measures, and increasing health facilities, the government has been using every tactic to tackle the pandemic situation. But for better results, all present variables need to culminate and respond equally, which is certainly not happening. Most of the people have been complaining about stricter restrictions and are even worried over the possiblity of a lockdown. Besides, on the religious side, many are complaining of not being allowed to celebrate festivals publicly or visiting temples like before, many devotees, spiritual leaders have been condemning the state government's norms and restrictions to be followed at temples, shrines, mosques, etc.

Meanwhile, in a bizarre incident in the Nanded district of Maharashtra, a mob of sword-wielding Sikhs attacked policemen, injuring at least four of them. Policemen were allegedly attacked after permission was denied to hold a public procession in Nanded due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What happened?

A viral video showed a sword-wielding mob barging out of the Nanded gurdwara, breaking the barricades put up by police and attacking the policemen.

Several vehicles were also damaged in the violence.

"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 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.

Tamboli said the condition of one of the four constables was serious.

He said six vehicles of police were damaged by the mob.

Nishan Sahib is a triangular saffron-coloured flag furling outside a gurdwara on a steel pole covered with a saffron-coloured cloth. The flag also has an insignia called Khanda in the middle, which includes two swords and a chakra.

What is Hola Mohalla?

Hola Mohalla (Hola) is a Sikh festival that is celebrated a day after Holi. Unlike Holi, when people play with the coloured powder, Hola Mohalla is an occasion for Sikhs to demonstrate their martial skills.

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.

Action taken after the incident:

At least 17 persons were held and 400 have been booked. An FIR will be registered 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.

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