Home Dehradun HC bans TV debates on Purola Mahapanchayat, seeks Govt’s response in case

HC bans TV debates on Purola Mahapanchayat, seeks Govt’s response in case

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By Arun Pratap Singh
Dehradun/Nainital, 15 Jun: The Uttarakhand High Court today heard a PIL seeking a ban on the Mahapanchayat convened by certain religious organisations in Uttarkashi on 15th,  even as the Mahapanchayat had already been postponed following talks between the local people and various organisations of Purola and the government. The case was heard by a division bench led by Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and also comprising Justice Rakesh Thapliyal. The Bench directed the state government to act strictly according to the law in such cases. It also observed that there will be no TV debates, nor will social media be used to discuss Mahapanchayat. The bench further observed that the police should investigate the people against whom the case has been registered. Also, the state government should submit a reply in this matter within three weeks.
It may be recalled that advocate Shahrukh Alam, a member of the Association for the Protection of Civil Rights, had filed a public interest litigation on Wednesday to ban the Mahapanchayat. He had claimed that he had appealed in this matter before the vacation bench of the Supreme Court. But after the  refusal to hear this petition by the Supreme Court,  he was asked to file a petition in the High Court. On which the Chief Justice of Nainital High Court had approved to hear this petition.
Shahrukh Alam claimed before the court that communal tension prevailed in Purola after a minor girl from Purola was lured away by two youths. Although the accused have been arrested there is tension. After this, religious shops are being evacuated from Purola and religious organisations have put up warning posters outside those shops. He said that there is apprehension that if a Mahapanchayat is held, ‘hate speech’ may be given by the leaders of religious organisations, due to which  communal atmosphere may prevail.
The court heard the matter, though the Mahapanchayat had already been postponed by the people. It may be recalled that late last night, those who had given a call for today’s Mahapanchayat  decided to withdraw the call due to the strict attitude of the state and the district administration which had imposed Section 144 of CrPC to ensure that peace prevails. Of course the issue is far from being resolved and some organisations have now given a call for Mahapanchayat on 25 June in Barkot. It remains to be seen, if someone approaches the court against this call too. Meanwhile nothing is being mentioned in respect of the call of a Mahapanchayat in Dehradun on 18 June by some Muslim organisations.  Some political analysts felt that such disputes can hardly be resolved through judicial interventions. There is a need for greater wisdom among both the communities.
Not happy with the way the government has handled the issue, the local traders in Purola kept their shops closed for most part of the day today.