The Uttarkashi district administration in Uttarakhand on Tuesday refused permission for a mahapanchayat, or a conclave, called by Hindutva groups on June 15, the Hindustan Times reported.

The decision comes amid tensions in the district’s Purola town that erupted last week after Hindutva groups issued threats to Muslim traders to shut their shops and leave by June 15 following an alleged attempt to kidnap a 14-year-old Hindu girl by two men.

The alleged kidnappers – Ubed Khan (24), a local shopkeeper, and Jitender Saini (23), a motorcycle mechanic – were arrested on May 27, a day after the alleged kidnapping bid.

However, Hindutva groups have alleged that the kidnapping was a case of “love jihad” – a debunked conspiracy theory according to which Muslim men lure Hindu women into romantic relationships in order to convert them to Islam.

The groups had planned a mahapanchayat on June 15 to protest alleged cases of “love jihad”. The conclave was being organised by the Purola Pradhan Sangathan, a pro-Hindutva group of village chiefs.

“We have denied permission to the Purola Pradhan Sangathan to hold the Mahapanchayat on June 15,” Sub-Divisional Magistrate Devanand Sharma said. “After the peace meeting with district magistrate and superintendent of police on Monday, the organisers gave in writing that they are taking back their request (for permission).”

Ankit Rawat, a senior office-bearer of the Purola Pradhan Sangathan, said that the organisation will decide on Wednesday on whether to go ahead with the mahapanchayat.

“The administration wanted us to call off the mahapanchayat,” he said. “We conveyed to the DM [district magistrate] that the mahapanchayat would be peaceful. Local people want mahapanchayat, not us. We are bound by what people say. We want to send a message through the mahapanchayat that illegal activities by a particular community will not be tolerated in our peaceful town anymore.”

Brijmohan Chauhan, the head of pro-Hindutva traders’ group, the Purola Vyapar Mandal, denied that Muslim traders were asked to leave the town, The Telegraph reported. “Ordinary residents, not us, called the mahapanchayat,” he said. “Nobody has asked any Muslim trader to leave Purola but wrongdoers with a terrorist mindset have done so on their own.”

Chauhan added: “The administration has asked Muslim traders not to leave the place and open their shops as usual, but they have their own fears. We can’t help it.”

SC refuses to entertain petition against mahapanchayat

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to entertain a petition against the conclave slated to be held on June 15, Live Law reported. A vacation bench comprising Justices Vikram Nath and Ahsanuddin Amanullah said that the petitioners could approach the High Court instead.

The petition was filed by the Association for Protection of Civil Rights. Appearing for the organisation, lawyer Sharukh Alam said that the Supreme Court had earlier directed the Uttarakhand government to make sure that no instances of hate speech would be allowed.

Justice Amanullah, however, said that the petitioners should have trust in the High Court, according to Live Law. “Why do you express distrust in approaching HC?” he asked. “If there is a mandamus by this Court, High Court will pass orders.”