Denial of permission to celebrate Holi at Hubbali Idgah Maidan leaves pro-Hindu outfits fuming

Police said the permission was withdrawn since it was sought at short notice and that they have to provide security to Prime Minister Modi.

ByBellie Thomas

Published Mar 11, 2023 | 11:16 AM Updated Mar 11, 2023 | 11:16 AM

Hubballi's Eidgah Maidan (Supplied)

The Hubballi district administration and the police denying permission — after giving the nod once — for celebrating Holi and installing an idol of Kamanna (Lord Manmatha) at the Idgah Maidan in the city has left pro-Hindu outfits fuming.

On Thursday, 9 March, the outfits alleged that the district administration and the police authorities had miserably failed after the Hubballi-Dharwad Mahanagara Palike (HDMP) withdrew the permission to celebrate Holi and install the idol at the Idgah Maidan.

Pro-Hindu organisations, Shri Gajanan Mahamandali and Rani Chennamma Gajanan Utsav Mahamandali, on 7 March, had applied to Hubballi Mayor Iresh Anchatgeri, seeking permission to install the idol and celebrate Holi at the Idgah Maidan.

The Mayor granted permission for the event to be organised from 9 March to 11 March.

The residents of Hubballi and Dharwad have been traditionally celebrating Holi, besides installing Kamanna’s idols on two different dates, respectively.

Related: Independence Day celebrations at Bengaluru Idgah Maidan

Holi celebrated on two days

“The people of Dharwad would celebrate Holi the night after sighting the full moon, traditionally called ‘Purnima’, Prasad, a resident of Hubballi told South First.

This time, Purnima fell on Monday, 6 March, and the people celebrated Holi on Tuesday. However, the people in Hubballi celebrate Holi on the fifth day after Purnima, on Saturday, 11 March,” he added.

Soon after the mayor granted permission to celebrate Holi, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and the Congress protested against the decision and urged the mayor to withdraw the permission saying Idgah Maidan is a ground of historic significance for centuries for Muslims, and celebrating with colours at the maidan would “desecrate” it.

On 9 March, HDMP Commissioner Gopalkrishna B and city police Commissioner Raman Gupta held a meeting with the two pro-Hindu outfits that had sought the mayor’s permission and withdrew the approval.

Commissioner Gupta explained to the pro-Hindu outfits that the police department denied permission since it was sought at short notice, and the department could not provide adequate security.

Additionally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit Dharwad on Sunday, 12 March, to inaugurate the first IIT in the district.

“We will have to deploy our personnel on security duty during the PM’s visit to Dharwad,” Gupta said.

Related: Veerarani Onake Obavva Jayanti at Idgah Maidan

Authorities explain why permission was denied

“If we were to allow the installation of Kamanna’s statue and Holi celebrations at Idgah Maidan, we will have to make elaborate security cover, requesting the headquarters to provide additional forces and arrangements for the deployment of Quick Response Team (QRT), Karnataka State Reserve Police Force (KSRP) and also installing temporary CCTV cameras at vantage points, etc,” he said.

“All these cannot be carried out at short notice. The permission should have been ideally taken at least 10 days in advance so that we could have worked it out. Permissions are already granted to install 472 Kamanna all over the Hubballi-Dharwad district,” he pointed out.

“Moreover, we have to deploy maximum police force for the PM’s visit and hence it was thought prudent by both the police department and the Hubballi-Dharwad district administration to cancel the permission,” Gupta and Gopalkrishna told reporters.

Soon after the permission was denied, pro-Hindu outfits raised suspicion that the district administration and the police department had succumbed to political pressure.

However, Gopalkrishna reiterated that he had not received even a single phone call from any politician on the issue.

Utter failure, says pro-Hindu outfit

The president of Rani Chennamma Gajanan Utsav Mahamandali, Sanjiv Badaskar, told reporters that denying permission was an utter failure on the part of district administration and the police department.”We will take a decision on our further course of action after discussing the issue with our seniors,” he said.

The maidan at the centre of Hubballi city has been in the eye of the storm for several years with Muslim outfits challenging the decision of the Hubballi-Dharwad Mahanagara Palike allowing Hindu festivals at the ground, which has been historically reserved for Eid celebrations over centuries.

After the Karnataka High Court dismissed the petition by Muslim outfits in September last, Ganesh Chaturthi and Tipu Jayanti programmes were conducted for the first time at the Idgah Maidan.