Dharan peaceful amid fear of ethnic, religious violenceCongress President Sher Bahadur Deuba and National Human Rights Commission appeal for communal harmony.
Dharan, a sub-metropolis in the district of Sunsari, remained peaceful on Saturday despite fear of possible confrontation between two rival groups.
No untoward incidents occurred in Dharan and the adjoining areas due to the local administration’s security measures and the local residents’ commitment to the social cohesion and harmony.
Various radical Hindu groups were scheduled to take out a rally in Dharan on Saturday urging for the ‘conservation of cows’. Thousands of people were expected to enter Dharan for the rally that could have triggered communal violence. The Hindu radicals organised the rally after some people posted a video of eating beef on social media a few days ago.
The District Administration Office (DAO) heightened security in Dharan and the entry points of the sub-metropolis to avert any untoward incidents. The local administration enforced a prohibitory order in Dharan from Friday midnight fearing the ethnic and religious violence in the city. The prohibitory order remains effective until Saturday midnight.
“Dharan was peaceful throughout the day on Saturday,” said Humkala Pandey, the chief district officer of Sunsari. “People from various Hindu organisations were prevented from entering Dharan. They organised a rally and cornermeet in Itahari after the security personnel stopped them. They have already returned from Itahari.”
Pandey and Deputy Inspector General of Nepal Police Rajeshnath Bastola have been hailed for their effective coordination and preventing possible violence.
Hundreds of Hindus from Jhapa, Morang, Saptari, Siraha and several other districts were heading to Dharan. The security personnel stopped them at Tarahara of Itahari.
“We stopped around 1,000 people at Tarahara,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police Raj Kumar Rai. “They staged demonstrations there, organised a corner meet and returned. Security situation is quite normal in Dharan, Itahari and other places now.” Around 1,000 security personnel were deployed at Tarahara and Itahari while 500 others were mobilised in other entry points of Dharan.
It is believed that religious intolerance is on the rise in the city after a group of radical Hindus invited faith leaders from outside to participate in a cow protection campaign after some radical members of some groups took to social media claiming that slaughtering cows is their cultural and religious right.
Meanwhile, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba has expressed a serious concern towards the situation in Dharan and made an appeal to everyone to maintain social harmony in the society.
“No one should forget that Nepal’s legal system has given a freedom to follow one’s religion and cultures without hurting the religion, culture and conviction of other individuals and communities,” Deuba said in an appeal issued on Saturday. “Also, it isn’t appropriate to harm others’ religion, culture and traditions.”
He has urged representatives of all the political parties, local representatives and members of religious organisations and leading members from various communities to create an environment of social harmony.
Earlier in the morning, the National Human Rights Commission appealed to members of the society to maintain social harmony in light of the unrest in Dharan. Issuing a press release on Saturday, the commission expressed its concern about the situation unfolding in the sub-metropolis while further adding that the constitutional body was seriously monitoring the situation there.
“The attention of the National Human Rights Commission has been drawn to the prohibitory order enforced by the district administrative office in Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City, and the situation that has arisen,” reads the statement of the rights body.
Recalling that the constitution has stated Nepal as a country with multiethnic, multilingual, multireligious, multicultural characteristics and geographical diversities, the NHRC has urged everyone to maintain social harmony in the sub-metropolitan.
“The commission appeals to all stakeholders to act constitutionally and exercise restraint and remain united,” the statement reads. The commission has urged stakeholders to resolve the differences through dialogues.
Meanwhile, the incumbent mayor, three former mayors and a deputy mayor of Dharan have expressed their concerns and appealed to the people to maintain social harmony. They have warned that religious and cultural disputes in the sub-metropolis may disrupt social harmony.