Taking suo motu cognizance of tourists, mainly from Punjab, ransacking shops and houses in Himachal Pradesh’s Manikaran in Kullu district, famed for a Sikh shrine, and elsewhere, the High Court on Friday directed the state government to file status report and listed the case for next hearing on March 13.
The court also issued notice to the Chief Secretary, the Principal Secretary (Home), the Director General of Police, the Deputy Commissioners Kullu and Bilaspur, among others, for the ruckus created by the tourists at Manali, Manikaran and Bilaspur.
A Division Bench of acting Chief Justice Sabina and Justice Satyen Vaidya passed the order on a writ petition taken up suo-motu as public interest litigation on the basis of media reports.
As per news published on March 6, it had been reported that the tourists from Punjab created ruckus at Manali’s Green Tax Barrier on March 5. The tourists got engaged in a fight with the workers for not paying green tax. Within no time, around 100 motorcyclists gathered on the road and started raising slogans and made the atmosphere tense.
The tourists were creating a hue and cry over payment of green tax. On both sides there were long queues of vehicles. It has been also reported that the flag of Khalistan was also hoisted on a motorcycle and on seeing the police in action the rider dropped the flag.
SDM Manali reached the spot and brought the situation under control with the help of police personnel.
On March 7, another newspaper reported that the tourists from Punjab also went on a rampage in Manikaran. A riot-like situation was witnessed in Manikaran on the night of March 6 as over 100 hooligans and miscreants from Punjab created ruckus and rampaged through the town carrying flags in their hands.
Some miscreants had consumed alcohol, hurled bottles towards the Naina Mata temple and on the road. After local residents intervened, the miscreants went on a rampage and vandalised temples, houses and 20 vehicles with iron rods and sticks.
The tourists thrashed everyone they saw on the way and created an atmosphere of panic. On being countered by a local boy, they hit him on the head with a beer bottle and also assaulted him with a rod. They entered an eatery forcibly and misbehaved with those present there.
Five persons sustained injuries in the incident and there prevailed an atmosphere of fear and anguish among the local residents. The local residents have demanded a strict action against the miscreants and to identify and apprehend them.
It was also reported that an FIR has been registered by the police against miscreants.
Another news published on March 7 reported that after the incident at Manikaran, devotees from Punjab gathered in hundreds and created ruckus at Garamora in Bilaspur district. The bike riders going to and returning from Manikaran gathered at Garamora, a gateway to Himachal Pradesh, on the Chandigarh-Manali National Highway, and kept the highway closed for about one and half hours.
This led to the queues of vehicles on both sides of the highway. The devotees demanded from the Himachal Pradesh government that during religious visits to Manikaran, the police should not stop them unnecessarily.