Subdued Holi celebrations in Uttar Pradesh

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Lucknow, Mar 29 (PTI) The coronavirus pandemic cast its shadow on the Holi celebrations in Uttar Pradesh with roads wearing a deserted look and people preferring to stay indoors, celebrating the festival with their family members.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath extended greetings to people, saying in a tweet that the festival symbolises the victory of truth over evil.

'Pray to God that the festival dedicated to love, cheerfulness and joy strengthen the colours of our unity and harmony. May the colours of happiness, peace and prosperity fill your lives,' Adityanath said in a Hindi tweet.

In Lucknow, the district administration had on March 23 said in view of the COVID-19 situation, rain dance parties, open dance programmes and other public gatherings had been prohibited till further orders.

The permission given earlier for all such types of parties was also cancelled.

A traditional procession of 'laat sahib' on the occasion of Holi was taken out in Shahjahanpur. According to the 18th-century tradition, Holi revellers in this Uttar Pradesh town begin the celebrations by hurling footwear at the 'laat sahib' procession, featuring a cart and a man personifying a ruler.

Police officials said the procession first reached the Phoolmati temple, from where it was taken to the Vishwanath temple. The procession was also taken to the Kotwali police station, where the 'laat sahib' was given a salute.

'Laat sahib' was wearing a garland of shoes.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav and Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSP-L) president Shivpal Yadav celebrated Holi at their native Saifai village in Etawah.

Akhilesh Yadav celebrated Holi at the family home, while Shivpal Yadav celebrated the festival at the village school.

Senior Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav sang Holi songs along with people who had gathered at the residence of the Yadav family in Saifai.

Meanwhile, a 60-year-old woman was beaten to death and five members of her family were injured when they opposed Holi revellers from celebrating the festival outside their house in Mevati Tola locality in Etawah, police said.

The Holi revellers, in an inebriated state, entered the woman's house around 10 am and beat her to death with sticks and stone, Additional Superintendent of Police (city) Prashant Kumar Prasad said.

When other family members tried to save her, five of them -- two women and three children -- were also beaten up, the police officer said.

In another incident reported from the Ekdil police station area of Etawah district, a youth under the influence of alcohol drove a tractor at high speed and injured six people.

The tractor got damaged after hitting an electricity pole. The youth was handed over to the police and the injured have been hospitalised, police said.

In Lucknow's Krishnanagar area, a dispute among children over Holi celebrations led to an exchange of fire between two neighbours.

A history-sheeter, identified as Rakesh Pandey, was injured on the neck, while a passerby suffered injuries in the cross-firing.

A police officer said three people have been arrested and a case registered against them. The accused are Vivek, Pawan and Bhalchandra. PTI CORR NAV SMN SMN