On March 5, clashes erupted between the Hindu and Muslim communities in the Purwa Ilahi Baksh area of Uttar Pradesh’s Meerut over the Holika Dahan ritual ahead of the Holi celebration on March 8.
According to media reports, violence erupted after some Muslims allegedly mocked two Hindus seeking donations for ceremonies comparing it to begging and kicking the ritualistic wooden pyre setup for Holika Dahan, symbolising burning Holika.
Reportedly, the two injured Hindu men blamed Muslim men for attacking them and ruining Holi celebrations. However, on March 6, the Meerut Police tweeted, “In reference to the incident of dispute and fight in a locality under Thana Brahmapuri area UP Police Meerut Police”.
The Meerut Police statement read, “In relation to the incident of dispute and fighting under the police station Brahmapuri. On 05.03.2023, there was a dispute and fight between two different parties in a locality under Brahmapuri police station under the influence of alcohol. There has been no dispute regarding keeping Holika, nor has there been any insult etc., to Holika. Holika is absolutely fine. No one is seriously injured. Action is being taken by the police. Three people have been detained. Peace and order are maintained on the spot.”
According to reports, Amit Gupta, Sonu Prajapati and Mullu Chanda were collecting donations for Holi celebrations when local councillor Shahzad Mewati, his brother Bhura, and two sons (Intezaar and Seefu) arrived and insulted Hindus collecting donations.
The local councillor Shahzad Mewati, and his associates, allegedly told the Hindus to take their donations and convert to Islam for accepting those donations. However, this led to a verbal spat between the two groups, which escalated into a physical altercation.
The Hindus alleged that Shehzad and his associates kicked the Holika Dahan setup for Holi celebrations. However, this led to a physical altercation, further escalating to stone pelting and throwing glass bottles at each other.
A Twitter user Sachin Gupta [@sachingupta787], tweeted, “UP: Dispute between two communities over keeping of Holika in Brahmpuri area of Meerut, a lot of stone pelting, windshields of autos standing on the way were broken,” with an attached video.
According to reports, the Meerut Police have detained three people connected to this incident. The Meerut Police has also deployed police personnel to control the situation as tensions prevail. SP Sajwan said the police are scanning CCTV footage to identify culprits; however, no arrests have been made.