Subdued Holi in Gujarat

AHMEDABAD March 29. Holi, the festival of colours, was colourless but more importantly, was celebrated peacefully in riot-torn Gujarat today amidst tight security.

An official spokesman said the situation was tense with both the communities fearing large-scale violence but no untoward incident was reported from any part of the State.

The curfew imposed in the sensitive areas in Ahmedabad and other trouble-prone towns as a precautionary measure forced people to stay indoors. Even in the other areas like the posh western parts of the city, the roads wore a deserted look with very few people or vehicles on the streets. Most of the shops, roadside kiosks and cabins remained closed.

The army was deployed in the minority-dominated Sarkhej locality in the city following the violence on Thursday in which several shops, hotels and a few places of worship were set ablaze, and in other curfew-bound areas where they staged flag marches. The Rapid Action Force, the Border Security Force and other para-military forces joined the State police in maintaining a strict vigil in the sensitive areas.

As a precautionary measure, curfew which was in force in seven police station areas of Kalupur, Dariapur, Shahpur, Karanj, Gaekwad Haveli, Vejalpur and Sarkhej, was extended fully or partly. to labour-dominated areas of Bapunagar, Gomtipur, Madhavpura, Kagdapith, Vatva, Ranip, Kaligam and some areas for the day. The police commissioner, P.C. Pande, said that in view of the peace today, curfew would be lifted from the additional areas tomorrow morning and in the six police station areas relaxed during the day.

It was the second consecutive year that Holi revelry was subdued in the State. It was celebrated in a very low key last year due to the earthquake.

Gomtipur locality in the city set an example of communal harmony with the Muslims joining the Hindus in Holika-Dahan and sprinkling of colours. Similar harmonious celebration was also reported from Rustampura village near Baroda and several other towns and villages in the State.

The Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, who did not celebrate Holi due to the disturbances in the State, spent the day attending to his official work. The Governor, Sunder Singh Bhandari, State Ministers and the Opposition leaders did not participate in the festivities.

Indefinite curfew was in force in parts of Broach, Godhra, Himmatnagar, Viramgam, Chhota-Udepur, Amod, Prantij, Modasa, Anand, Cambay, Borsad and Jambusar

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