A social media clip of a Kanwariya mob vandalising a car in west Delhi went viral on Wednesday, while a group of pilgrims vandalised a police emergency vehicle in UP’s Bulandshahr the next day
It is the time of the year when lakhs of Kanwariya pilgrims walk to the Ganga barefoot and carry back its ‘holy’ water to local Shiva shrines in their areas. Carried out during the month of Shravan, this yatra requires devotees to cross at least four north Indian states — Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana and Uttarakhand.
Over the past few years, several violent incidents and road blockades by Kanwariyas have been reported from different parts of Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi.
On Wednesday, a social media clip of a Kanwariya mob vandalising a car in west Delhi went viral. On Thursday, pilgrims vandalised a police emergency vehicle in UP’s Bulandshahr.
Over 50 lakh devotees travel through the states and some altercations between them and the public are unavoidable. This year, however, the level of fear among citizens is higher and many faced issues commuting to work or even getting out of their homes. Similar cases were reported from Varanasi, Gurugram and Ghaziabad. The magnitude of violence will only go up in the coming years.
During the pilgrimage, many groups set up tents along the road to rest while the Delhi police deploys personnel near these shelters to keep law and order in check. This year, the police told Scroll.in that at least 100 such shelters were set up in the city.
A senior police official said it is difficult to keep a tab on all the pilgrims. The two ring roads in Delhi suffer the most as it has round-the-clock traffic and thousands of pedestrians.
Police officials from all four states meet before the yatra to go over coordination strategies and ensure smooth traffic as well as security of the public and the pilgrims.
A senior police official from UP said this yatra is the most difficult to organise. “This is because we have seen that most of the hooliganism incidents that involve Kanwariyas and the public have their roots in minor road rage incidents,” he said.The issue is not a new one, but many from the Delhi police believe that the police need to come up with new ways of tackling this problem. There needs to be new strategies than just holding a few coordination meetings but it is unclear what these measures will be.