Muslims in Mandvi taluka of Kutch have been banned from entering all garba venues this Navratri.
However, this is just one of the several stringent bans imposed by the garba organizers and Hindu Sangathan Yuva Morcha, a local saffron outfit. Entry for Hindus too comes with a condition. Hindus entering the venue will have to sprinkle cow urine on themselves and apply tilak on their forehead.
“We had banned the entry of people from other religions last year itself and framed these strict rules. But these are being more pronounced this year,” said Raghuvirsinh Jadeja.
Justifying the ban, Jadeja tells, “Navratri is a religious festival in which devotees worship the deity of strength for nine days. We are also concerned over the rising number of cases of love-jihad.”
Even as the outfit and garba organizers are firm on imposing the ban, it must be noted that the coastal town of Mandvi, which is famed for its centuries-old wooden boat-making industry, has never seen communal clashes. This despite the large population of Muslims, most of whom are engaged in the dhow-making business.
Jadeja said the members of the organization will also fan out across all the garba venues and ensure that no Muslims are present there. Sources said that Jadeja has a private financing business and has formed this outfit since a year. The organization is closely associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP)
There are around six big garba events in Mandvi taluka.
Local Muslim leader Azam Angadia, who is also vice-president of Kutch Vahanvata Association, said, “We are going to meet in a day or two to decide on our stand regarding such a decree. There are some elements who are making deliberate attempts at vitiating the atmosphere.”
A BJP leader from Kutch also expressed his displeasure over the decree. “Hindus and Muslims have been living in complete harmony since years in Mandvi. There are many Hindus who keep roza (fast) during Ramzan and Muslims join them with fervour in Ganesh Chaturthi. Such bans are in a very poor taste when there is no communal rift at all,” he said, not wanting to be named.
(Originally published in The Times Of India)