"This Must Stop," Says Supreme Court On Kanwariya Violence

Groups of Kanwar pilgrims known as Kanwariyas have been accused of indulging in vandalism and destruction of public property during their pilgrimage.

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Kanwar pilgrims called Kanwariyas are often accused of vandalism (PTI)

New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. Reports of Kanwariyas indulging in vandalism and violence across India
  2. Centre raises issue in top court during hearing on damage to property
  3. Court says situation "grave", will take action

Vandalism and destruction of public property cannot be allowed, the Supreme Court said today in strong observations about violent protests as the centre's lawyer cited, among other instances, the recent spike in havoc unleashed by Kanwar pilgrims.

"Damage to public properties is a serious issue... This is a grave situation and this must stop. We will take action and won't wait for amendments," the court said.

These comments came after the government's lawyer Attorney General K K Venugopal told the top court: "Every week we have major riots including educated people. We had Maratha protests and SC/ST protests."

"Judges might have seen media reports how Kanwariyas damaged cars, overturning it," Mr Venugopal added, referring to videos of Kanwars attacking vehicles including police cars.

"There has to be an FIR and responsibilities fixed," he added.

Kanwars, devotees of Lord Shiva who undertake an annual pilgrimage to sacred Hindu places to fetch holy water from River Ganga, have been caught on video in recent weeks damaging public and private property after minor arguments. Police in parts of the country have also been criticised for going easy on the troublemakers though in some parts like Uttarakhand, government officials have taken note and urged stern action against hooliganism.

Responding to the comments in court today, Justice DY Chandrachud said, "In Allahabad, Kanwarias blocked half the highway."

Chief Justice Dipak Misra said, "You may burn your own house and be a hero but you cannot damage third party property."

The observations came over a hearing on a petition filed by the Kodungalur Film Society against the damage to property during protests against the movie Padmaavat that was accused by Rajput groups of hurting their sentiments.

The petitioner argued that 2009 Supreme Court verdict on the subject was not being implemented.

Today, the top court reserved the verdict on new framing guidelines.

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