NEW DELHI, India, March 16 (Reuter): India celebrated the Hindu Spring Festival quietly today, in marked contrast to last year’s violence and killings. But police said their patrols were on full alert in the capital.

Police with guns and batons watched in various parts of Delhi as groups of young people roamed in cars and bicycles looking for victims to daub with colored powders or soak with water pistols. or water filled balloons.

The festival known as “Holi”, marks the end of the winter and the advent of spring, and is also a holiday for the State and commercial sectors, but in recent years it has been marked by increasing hooliganism and violence.

At least 16 people died and more than 100 were hurt when Hindu Moslem rioting broke out in the capital during last year’s Holi. Police were placed this year at all women’s colleges, threatening stern action against revelers for “eve teasing”, or harassment of women, a common complaint in previous year.

In the Southern State of Karnataka a holi reveler in a group apparently attempting to extort money from passing vehicles was run over by a truck, the Press Trust of India reported:

A stabbing was reported in Punjab and police in Western Gujarat state used tear gas to disperse a stone throwing group of celebrants, the news agency said.

Police in Delhi were posted this year at all women’s colleges and other vulnerable points and threatened stern action against violators.

An advertisement placed in the newspapers by the Delhi administration urged people to “celebrate Holi in a Holy way”.

But it appeared that most revelers ignored the official ban on water balloons and the throwing of colored water.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 20, 1987