Supreme Court’s cracker ban during Diwali is misused to settle personal disputes

In one of the very first instances of police action following the Supreme Court order that restricted firecracker bursting in Delhi-NCR region to only two hours on the day of Diwali, 35 years old Damandeep Singh was booked after one his neighbor lodged complaint against him.

As per a Swarajya report, 39 year old Deenbandhu Kumar who resides in a floor below Singh at Mayur Vihar Phase-3 of Delhi, had complained to police against Singh after he got into a scuffle with him.

As per the report, entire matter began when Kumar asked Singh’s children to stop bursting crackers outside of his house. But instead of obeying Kumar’s instructions, Singh also joined his children which led to an altercation between the two adults. It was Kumar who later dialed the police to complain against his neighbor.

When the police arrived to inspect the site, they found burst crackers lying on the floor and booked Singh under Section 188 of the IPC (disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant). As bursting of crackers was in violation of Supreme Court’s October order.

However Kumar has clarified that he was unaware of the SC order about firecracker bursting and that he had only complained about the altercation. Both Singh and Kumar families had different accounts of what transpired between them.

On asked why he says this case is not about crackers or Diwali, Kumar said the background is important. “They are Punjabis and they have a problem with us as we are from Bihar. They derogatorily call my wife Biharan and constantly trouble us,” he said. The bursting of crackers outside his house was an extension of this “harassment”, he said.

“They can burst crackers anywhere. Even my children will burst them when they grow up. But one shouldn’t harass others,” he said.

While Singh’s wife said that Deenbandhu Kumar and his wife Sangeeta used her son bursting crackers an an excuse to get back at them. Like Kumar, Gupta also insisted that the episode has a “background” to it. “We have a common submersible pump for water. They [Kumar’s family] always have issues with the water bill which needs to be split. They always accuse us of wasting water and Sangeeta vents her ire on my eight-year-old son,” she said. She also said that Kumar’s family has a problem with them “as we are Punjabis,” reported Swarajya.

Meanwhile, the incident has drew strong reactions on social media, with many comparing it with the times of Aurangzeb. Many also wondered whether police can randomly book anyone if their children are found celebrating Diwali by bursting crackers. Some have also raised concern that people can misuse this rule to falsely frame there enemies.