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Uttarakhand cancels mahapanchayat in Purola, High Court directs state government to maintain law and order

Taking in view the tense atmosphere prevailing in Purola town of Uttarkashi district after a failed attempt by two men to kidnap a minor on May 26, the High Court of Uttarakhand on Thursday directed the state government to ensure that law and order was maintained in all parts of the hill state and that there was no loss of life or property of any person.

The Bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Rakesh Thapliyal issued the direction while issuing notice on a PIL filed by the Association for the Protection of Civil Rights.

The petition sought directions to stop a ‘mahapanchayat’ announced by Hindutva groups in Purola today and registration of FIRs against persons who have issued ultimatum to Muslims in the area to vacate the place.

Appearing for the state government, Advocate General of Uttarakhand S.N. Babulkar apprised the High Court that the ‘mahapanchayat’ has been called off at the intervention of the state and that the situation has been diffused to that extent. 

The High Court recorded the AG’s statement and directed the state government to fulfil its constitutional obligations. The petitioner, its associations and all others concerned to the case were directed by the Bench to refrain from social media debates on the issue, in order to normalise the situation.

Purola has been witnessing communal tension since May 26, after two men, including a Muslim and a Hindu, tried to abduct a 14-year-old girl. The incident was termed as a case of ‘love jihad’ by local residents.

Though police arrested both the accused, the incident simmered communal frenzy in the town, with certain outfits reportedly holding protests in several areas and attacking the shops and houses of Muslims residing in Purola.

Notices in the name of one ‘Devbhumi Raksha Sangathan’ were reportedly pasted on the shutters of shops owned by Muslim traders, threatening them to vacate the premises before the Mahapanchayat on June 15 or face dire consequences. 

As per reports, several Muslim families have already left the town, fearing for their safety.

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