Religious processions banned in Sambalpur

Collector Akshay Sunil Agrawal said that after holding discussions with members of all the communities, the decision was taken to not allow grand processions or bike rallies during any festival, be it Hanuman Jayanti, Ram Navami or Eid.
Representational image: Hindu devotees take part in a religious procession on the occasion of the Madhav Narayan festival in Bhaktapur on the outskirts of Kathmandu
Representational image: Hindu devotees take part in a religious procession on the occasion of the Madhav Narayan festival in Bhaktapur on the outskirts of KathmanduPhoto | Express

SAMBALPUR: With the last year’s violence during Ram Navami still fresh in its mind, the district administration on Tuesday imposed restrictions on all kinds of religious processions including Hanuman Jayanti in Sambalpur city.

The decision was taken at the peace committee meeting held in the Zilla Parishad hall which was attended by members of Hanuman Jayanti Samanwaya Samiti and representatives of different communities.

Sambalpur collector Akshay Sunil Agrawal said that after holding discussions with members of all the communities, the decision was taken to not allow grand processions or bike rallies during any festival, be it Hanuman Jayanti, Ram Navami or Eid. However, communities can celebrate festivals in their respective localities.

“To maintain peace and harmony in the city following the incident last year and ensure smooth conduct of the upcoming elections, the decision has been taken in the larger interest of everyone,” he said.

The district administration assured that adequate security arrangements will be put in place in sensitive areas for peaceful observance of festivals. The public was urged to cooperate with the administration by refraining from gathering in large groups during festivals and curb spread of fake news or inflammatory messages on social media.

Apart from collector Agrawal, Sambalpur SP Mukesh Bhamoo, SMC commissioner Vedbhushan and other district officials attended the meet.

Notably, the office of the district collector through a written communication invited mediapersons to attend the peace committee meeting. However, Sambalpur SP Bhamoo did not allow the media to enter the meeting hall. Later, the district collector expressed regret over it.

On April 12 last year, two communities had clashed outside a mosque in Sunapali area during a rally organised on the eve of Hanuman Jayanti. The next day, internet services were suspended in Sambalpur city to curb spread of inflammatory messages.

On April 14, the Hanuman Jayanti procession was taken out but several incidents of arsoning and a murder were reported, leading to a complete curfew across the city. Normalcy was restored in the city after around a week.

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