Peaceful Telangana: Study lauds steps in preventing violence in Ramnavami, Hanuman Jayanthi

However, in the recent past, hanuman Jayanthi and Sri Ramanavami celebrations – especially the shobha yatras and processions – led to violence in most States in India

Peaceful Telangana: Study lauds steps in preventing violence in Ramnavami, Hanuman Jayanthi

HYDERABAD: Festivals, from times immemorial, are celebrated with religious fervour by people across India. And, most festivals are celebrated in public without confining the same to closed doors. This can be seen across all religions.

However, in the recent past, hanuman Jayanthi and Sri Ramanavami celebrations – especially the shobha yatras and processions – led to violence in most States in India.

Against the backdrop of outbreak of violence in many states, a study was conducted by ‘Citizens and Lawyers Initiative’ across 13 States in India and the report entitled “Routes of wrath – weaponizing religious processions. Communal violence during Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanthi (April 2022). The report was published this month.

Reputable jurist and former Judge of Supreme Court of India Justice Rohinton F Nariman wrote a foreword for the work, edited by Senior Advocate Chander Uday Singh.

It’s a matter of pride for Telangana that the report made a special chapter about Telangana with a title “TELANGANA — WHERE PEACE PREVAILED DESPITE PROCESSIONS”.

The report examined the States of Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Goa, West Bengal and found large-scale violence in the routes where the processions were taken out. The States of Karnataka, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh in that order were classified as those that saw communal violence, and low-grade violence.

Telangana stood out conspicuously with a clean track record.

Justice Nariman in his prologue said: “The present report by the Citizens and Lawyers Initiative … finds that in nine States of this Country, during Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti celebrations in April 2022, there were widespread acts of hooliganism and violence. In just three States, Gujarat, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh, it has found that during these processions at least 100 persons from the minority community have been injured and two people killed.

“The report however, does end on a positive note when it comes to the State of Telangana, where both the Police Chief and the High Court have taken the lead in ensuring that the constitutional right of the Hindu community to take out their processions is exercised in peace and harmony without disturbing members of other communities, given that we are a secular nation.”

Dwelling on the situation on these two significant days during last year in Telangana, the Citizens & Lawyers Initiative said: “Previous chapters examined how in State after State, including some under non-BJP, outwardly secular Chief Ministers, the routes permitted for Ram Navami and Hanuman Jayanti processions, and of course their timings and the freedom to halt in front of major mosques, led invariably to rioting. And in some States, the appalling loss caused by marauding mobs was followed by the brutal destruction of homes and shops by tyrannical administrations. But this was neither inevitable nor unavoidable.”

In its detailed account on Telangana, the study said: “There is no way of knowing whether directions came from the Chief Minister or the Home Minister of Telangana, but judging by the strict limits imposed by different Police Commissioners on Ram Navami Shobha Yatras that were proposed to be held on April 10, 2022 in different parts of the State, it would appear that this was so. In any event, the fact is that diverse Police chiefs in different parts of the State granted procession permissions with very strict conditions designed to avoid communal clashes; and where procession organisers insisted on choosing routes that passed through communally sensitive areas, their applications were simply ignored. Interestingly, in Hyderabad the Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) delineated a single route to be followed by all processions, and refused to allow Ram Navami Shobha Yatras in different localities or passing through communally sensitive areas.

“At least three organisations filed writ petitions seeking urgent interim directions against the State Government, the Director General of Police, and the heads of Police in different zones of Hyderabad and Secunderabad, as also Superintendent of Police of Nirmal District, the Dy.S.P. and the Station House Officer of Bhainsa Town.

“When the petitions were taken up for urgent hearing on April 8, 2022, the administration stood firm, and placed on record the conditions imposed by the Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order), Hyderabad, in his order described as Proceedings No. L&O/LO2/0775/2022 dated 07.04.2022. Justice Lalitha Kanneganti of the Telangana High Court was equally firm, and after hearing counsel for the parties, passed a common order specifying in meticulous detail the routes which would be permitted for Shobha Yatras in Hyderabad and in Bhainsa.

“Though the Order pronounced in Court on April 8, 2022 did not contain detailed reasons, the learned Judge rejected the plea that different Hindu organisations be permitted to conduct independent processions in their own localities, and be allowed to pass through routes of their choice. Instead, she directed that the Sri Rama Navami Utsav Committee, Rasoolpura, and the Kesari Hanuman Yuva Sangathan may join the existing route already permitted for the first organisation that had applied and obtained permission as per the Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) Proceedings No. 0775/2022 dated 07.04.2022.

“Leaving no room for ambiguity, the Judge specified in the Order that the petitioners could join the existing procession or take out their own procession on the same route from Seetha Rambagh Temple to Hanuman Vyayamshala School, Sultan Bazar via Bhoiguda Kaman, Mangalghat Police Station Road, Jali Hanuman, Dhoolpet, Puranapul, Gandhi Statue, Jumerath Bazar, Chudi Bazar, Siddiamber Bazar, Shanker Sher Hotel, Gowliguda Chaman, Gurudwara, Putlibowli ‘X’ Road, and Koti Sultan Bazar. With equal attention to detail, Justice Kanneganti called upon the State counsel to specify the permissible route for processions in Bhainsa Town, and, accepting the route specified by the Station House Officer, Bhainsa, she permitted the Hindu Vahini to take out a procession between 09.00 A.M. and 01.00 P.M. from Goshala Das to Hanuman Temple, Koti Devudu, Old Sona Chandini, Kuber Adda, Bus Stand, Nirmal Chowrasta and Ram Leela Maidan.

“The Judge also directed that all but one of the 23 conditions imposed in the Additional Commissioner’s Proceedings dated 07.04.2022, would also be applicable to the Hindu Vahini in Bhainsa.899 These elementary precautions taken by the State administration and the Police authorities in Telangana, which were strongly endorsed and backed up by Justice Lalitha Kanneganti, resulted in absolute peace and harmony even though huge Ram Navami processions were taken through Hyderabad and Bhainsa.

“The takeaway from Telangana’s handling of these religious processions is that where the administration and the courts wish to prevent communal clashes and riots even while allowing religious processions, they can. It bears mentioning that Bhainsa is a communal cauldron, which has witnessed several Hindu-Muslim riots in the past. Situated some 260 km from Hyderabad, Bhainsa suffered major communal riots emanating from a religious procession in 2008, which resulted in the loss of nine lives.

“The High Court was informed by State counsel that communal violence took place in Bhainsa in January 2020 and again in March, 2021, resulting in damage to properties and suffering of innocents. Various other incidents were also brought to the attention of the High Court. Despite this, Justice Lalitha Kanneganti balanced the constitutional right of Hindus to take out a religious procession, with the need to maintain peace and harmony in a secular nation, and allowed the procession while making it subject to stringent conditions.903 In the final analysis, Telangana proved that it can be done.”

Next Story

Similar Posts