Police question witnesses after event drew crowd in Denpasar amid pandemic

A screengrab from the video documenting the crowds gathering early Saturday morning. Screengrab: Instagram
A screengrab from the video documenting the crowds gathering early Saturday morning. Screengrab: Instagram

The Denpasar Police have reportedly questioned at least seven people for an event that drew a crowd of dozens and ignored the city’s Restrictions on People’s Activities (PKM) protocol last week, with the Bali governor calling on the public to refrain from “dramatizing and politicizing” the incident. 

Dozens of Kampung Jawa residents gathered in the early hours of Saturday, a video of which has been widely circulated on social media. It showed people singing to the beat of the drums on the last day of Ramadan, standing close together on the streets and in an alley. 

 

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Kampung Jawa is located in Denpasar’s Ahmad Yani street, and it is popularly known for being the biggest area where Bali province’s Muslim population reside.

The incident quickly prompted a comparison with a ngaben (traditional Balinese cremation ritual) ceremony that took place in Buleleng regency earlier this month, which eventually saw a man charged for obstructing countermeasures in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, I Dewa Putu Gede Anom Danujaya from the Denpasar Police said that the two incidents are different and should not be compared to each other. 

“Ngaben is surely planned, but this incident in Kampung Jawa, whether or not it was planned, and why they lit a flare, who is behind it, we need to look into it first,” Danujaya said yesterday. 

Authorities emphasized the importance of the “planning” element in order to further process the incident as an official investigation. 

The public reaction to this latest incident has led to a response from Bali Governor Wayan Koster, who said that citizens should not link the Kampung Jawa event to the ngaben ceremony in Buleleng. 

“I am calling on everyone to refrain from dramatizing and politicizing the incident, no need to link it to the Ngaben Ceremony in Sudaji village, because the story of the two cases are different,” Koster said.

Bali has issued official advisories since March, suggesting that the public should not partake or organize public gatherings, as part of an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Furthermore, Denpasar has its own PKM protocol in place since May 15, which regulates restrictions on activities, especially those in public settings. 

As of yesterday afternoon, Bali has recorded 407 COVID-19 cases, including 295 recoveries and four deaths.

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