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Plea to include people of all faiths in Pujas

- Move to maintain peace and harmony

Jorhat, Oct. 8: The Jorhat district administration has appealed to various Durga Puja committees in the district to include people from different faiths in their committees to boost the efforts to maintain peace and communal harmony.

The initiative has been taken as part of precautionary measures to maintain peace and harmony, besides preventing elements with vested interests in instigating communal clashes in the wake of the BTAD riots.

About 200 Pujas are organised across the district with 72 in and around Jorhat town.

Jorhat additional deputy commissioner (who is deputy commissioner in-charge now) Pranab Baruah told The Telegraph here today that the district administration has urged the Puja organisers to remain very alert and ask all members and volunteers to keep a strict vigil during the festive days to prevent any attempt by “mischievous elements” to create trouble and incite communal tension.

Baruah said as there would be a huge gathering during the four days, trouble-mongers may try to incite violence on communal lines to exploit the BTAD issue.

The acting deputy commissioner said though the BTAD violence initially was a small incident between two ethnic communities, religious colour got added to it and the impact was felt across the nation.

He said in a meeting held between the organisers and the district administration on Saturday, Jorhat deputy commissioner R.C. Jain (now out of station) had requested the Puja committees to remain extra cautious so that communal harmony and peace is maintained and any bid to foment trouble on communal lines gets foiled.

He said Jain had urged the organisers to induct people from different faiths in the Puja committees, if possible, so that it would not only give a cosmopolitan look, but a positive message will go out to society.

“Involvement of persons from different religions will strengthen the ties between the various communities and would go a long way in cementing a brotherly relationship,” Baruah said.

The ADC said Jorhat Central Puja Committee (representing all Puja committees) representatives, while welcoming the proposal, had stated that some committees had Sikh members, so involvement of other communities is plausible if people were interested.

He said organisers were told to instruct the committee members and volunteers notto believe any incident without verification, as rumour-spreading was one tool used by those who instigate communal violence, evident by the mass exodus of northeastern people from south India.

Baruah said each and every incident reported should be confirmed with the administration officials or with the control room opened during Puja days.

General secretary of Jorhat Central Puja, Sandip Nandy, said the committees have welcomed the proposal and would try to implement it. Nandy said already the organising committees have been formed with few having people from different linguistic groups and Sikh religious community.

“Now they (committees) will request people from other communities, like Muslims and Christians, to be part of the committees if there were such people in the respective localities,” he said.