A sizable crowd marched through Jahangirpuri on Ram Navami on Thursday. As the march took place in contravention of rules, it prompted deployment of riot control personnel to prevent any untoward incidents, according to the police.
As part of the Ram Navami mahotsav, the Delhi Police had refused permission to organise the “Shree Ram Bhagwan Pratima Yatra” in the vicinity where violence broke out during a Hanuman Jayanti procession last year.
According to a senior police official, the group assembled in a park in a neighbourhood in northwest Delhi and conducted puja there.
“We deployed local police personnel, riot control force along with four companies of other forces to ensure law and order is maintained and no untoward incident takes place. The situation remained under control and people cooperated,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (northwest) Jitendra Meena said paramilitary forces were also deployed in the area and the event passed off peacefully.
“We also conducted Aman committee meetings in the area. The organisers were advised to cut short their route to 100 metres to which they agreed and the program passed off peacefully,” he said.
Police also closed some streets in the area for security reasons.
The organisers claimed “thousands” of people had attended the procession, despite the police reporting that only 500 or so people were there.
The parade began at 11.30 am and ended about 1 pm, according to the police. The procession in Jahangirpuri was one of a total of seven that were carried out in the northwest district.
The march was held as a sign of peace, according to Sachin Sharma, alias Mohit Sanatani, the Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Yuva Morcha’s president for Delhi Pradesh.
“We applied for permission around a month ago, however, it was denied by police citing law and order situation,” Sharma said.
“We were preparing for the programme and two days ago, a written communication was received that the permission had been denied. We had a plan to cover four to five kilometres in the Jahangirpuri area, but it was restricted to around 200 metres,” he added.
“We avoided the area where riots took place last year on Hanuman Jayanti as we didn’t want to disturb our (Muslim) brothers who are fasting during Ramzan,” he said.
The national president of Akhil Bhartiya Hindu Yuva Morcha, Shivom Mishra, said that while he had travelled from Surat, Gujarat, to attend the event, many others were unable to do so because of police barricades surrounding the park where the march started.
As they are devotees of Lord Ram, the participants obeyed police orders and did not damage the barricades, according to Mahant Mangak Das, who manages an ashram close to Rajghat.
The program’s organisers added that Pinky Chaudhary, the president of the Hindu Rakshak Dal who was detained for allegedly yelling communal slogans at Jantar Mantar, joined them in their procession.
Sheik Abdul Qadir, who has a shop near the mosque in block C where the riots took place, said, “We were assured by police that the peaceful environment will be maintained in the area. The Imam of the mosque also kept asking people to follow instructions. When the riots took place last year, my shop remained closed for 15 days. We don’t want to face that again.”
Meanwhile, a police officer said permission for praying at a local park during Ramzan was also denied by the authorities.