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Nuh violence: Locals patrol Nalhar temple under Village and Small Town Act

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Residents of at least 15 villages around Nalhar in Nuh, where communal violence broke out on July 31 during a Hindu procession, on Monday set up barricades and guarded the entry/exits to ensure that no outsider entered their areas to foment trouble.

Residents of Muradbas village near Nalhar temple had installed barricades at entry and exit routes on Monday. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)
Residents of Muradbas village near Nalhar temple had installed barricades at entry and exit routes on Monday. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

This immensely helped the Nuh administration in maintaining law and order in the district, amid a call given by Hindu right-wing organisations to resume on Monday the jalabhishek yatra that was abandoned midway on July 31, said officials.

The controversial yatra passed off peacefully on Monday after the police clamped prohibitory orders across the region and allowed only a group of 51 people to enter the temple in Nalhar and complete the rituals.

The arrangements were made under the thikri pehra (community policing to safeguard or secure villages from robberies, thefts, or similar situations), ordered under Section 3 of the Punjab Village and Small Town Patrol Act, 1918.

Besides the heavy police deployment throughout the district, the thikri pehra ensured that no untoward incident was reported from anywhere near Nalhar on Monday when the Hindu groups resumed the jalabishek yatra.

The law allows temporary deployment of civilians for patrolling within the villages and says that they will be deemed as “public servants” till the patrolling is over.

Nuh deputy commissioner (DC) Dhirendra Khadgata had issued orders to set up thikri pehras in all villages and towns of Nuh district from August 26 to 28.

Following the DC’s order, the village panchayat forwarded a list of “able-bodied adult male inhabitants” for patrol duty. While the method of selection is determined by the district administration, it is the panchayat that selects the individuals for duty.

The DC had directed that the men to be on patrol both during the day and night “with a view to keep a watch on persons entering the villages without valid passes”.

“It was important to involve villagers in such matters so that they can effectively manage egress/ingress of people in their respective villages. This yielded good results and no miscreant or outsider could enter villagers; everyone was stopped and turned away,” he said.

Walia Ahmed , sarpanch (village head) of Muradbas village near Nalhar, said groups of villagers in shifts managed the four entry/exit points round the clock and remained in touch with the local police and the administration.

“We barricaded off these points and a team of five persons, comprising Hindus as well, from our village were deployed on day and night duty. They maintained records of all vehicles and people who tried to cross the stretch towards Nalhar,” he said.

Sahir Ahmed, a villager managing one of the entry/exit points, said more than 50 vehicles were turned away on Monday as their occupants were not carrying ID cards. “This helped control the movement of miscreants and outsiders and the situation remained peaceful in Nuh,” he said.

Arun Zaildar, who heads the 52 pals (community grouping), said villagers acted responsibly. “Hindus and Muslims together kept watch on miscreants. They also ensured that people remained indoors and had stocked up on essentials in advance as all shops were closed on Monday,” he said.

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