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Communal amity marks idols immersion

By K. Manikandan



GIVING HARMONY A HAND: Muslims greet Hindus participating in a Vinayaka Chathurthi procession at R.K.Nagar, Pulianthope in Chennai on Sunday. — Photo: S. Thanthoni

CHENNAI SEP. 7. Hundreds of Ganesha idols were today immersed in the Bay of Bengal after being taken in a procession from different parts of the city and nearby places amid tight security. Police personnel were visibly relieved as no untoward incident was reported anywhere.

Till 6 p.m., more than 700 plaster-of-Paris idols were immersed with the help of a giant crane of the Chennai Port Trust. Processionists came to the Marina taking 16 different routes.

According to sources, more than 4,000 policemen, including Rapid Action Force personnel, were on duty.

A police officer at the immersion point said fewer idols were brought to the Marina this time compared to last year.

Though a crane was pressed into service, not all idols were fully immersed and many of them were seen lying discarded on the shoreline.

At Pulianthope, the procession started on a note of amity, with local Muslims welcoming the processionists from Korukkupet.

Representatives of the Burma Thamizhar Muslim Jamath of Netaji Nagar welcomed volunteers of the Hindu organisations, who were taking the Ganesha idols on bullock carts. Jamath members and processionists greeted each other with shawls and exchanged pleasantries.

According to M.A.Abu Haniffa, Jamath president, the gesture was "intended to foster a spirit of brotherhood and communal harmony". V.S.Thyagarajan, a North Chennai BJP functionary, appreciated the Jamath's gesture.

The Jamath members, who later `flagged off' a procession, said this was the first time they had participated .

According to A.Mohammed Rafiq, this was the first occasion when solidarity was displayed in full view of the public. "We want this to be an example for the rest of India."

Meanwhile, the police arrested Hindu Munnani Organiser, Ramagopalan, and 18 other Munnani members when they attempted to take out a procession near the Ice House Mosque, for which they had not obtained permission. Mr.Ramagopalan was taken to the Triplicane police station and later released.

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